Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ready to Go!

Ready to Go!

Scripture:

Eph. 6:10 ¶ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.

Eph. 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Eph. 6:12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Eph. 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Eph. 6:14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.

Eph. 6:15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.

Eph. 6:16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Eph. 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Observation:

Every day we must be prepared to head out into the world where we live be reflections of Jesus Christ.  The writer knows that there is a spiritual battle that is on-going and those who are in the Lord must be prepared for all that might be sent their way.  Strength comes from being in the Lord and resting in his power.

The power of the Lord results in becoming armored or protected by him.  Every part of our being is to be brought into submission to him and in doing so becomes armored by God’s strength.  Spiritual warfare is very real and often in realms that we cannot ascertain.  There is palpable power emitted by those in authority and by spiritual forces that are committed to the destruction of the Lord’s faithful followers.  We need to be alert to all that surrounds us and be prepared.

The importance here is in understanding the value of the whole armor of God.  A single piece of the armor is not enough.  Just as Paul admonished us to be sanctified through and through, this protection provided by the Holy Spirit is entire.  Again, we must be aware of the complete and total nature of our relationship with God.

As each portion of the armor is described, a spiritual virtue is revealed.  Truth and righteousness are practiced in the life of the individual who is focused in their relationship with Christ.  Christ becomes the beacon that continually guides in the direction of truth, for Jesus is Truth.  We are continually made righteous as we remain in him on a daily basis.

The shoes keep us well prepared to go wherever we may be sent at a moment's notice.  To be God's ambassadors of peace in the midst of conflict.

All the while the world will throw questions our way, encouraging us to doubt our relationship with The Lord.  What better way to stop a follower in their tracks than to encourage them to doubt the very one in whom they believe!  Therefore we must hold up the shield of faith...the protective barrier of our faith in Jesus.  Let the enemy throw at us what they may, our foundation cannot be shaken when we are secure in our relationship with the one on whom we fix our eyes day in and day out.

Our head and our minds remain protected, for we have been saved from the death of sin, and are alive in Christ.  Finally the weapon we carry with us, the offensive tool is the word of God.  Yes, this is the power of the scriptures, for Jesus himself quoted the scriptures when tempted by the evil one, but we have the privilege of knowing the incarnate Word...Jesus, the living word of God.  In him there is power and we are ready to go.

Application:

Back in the 90's life in Russia was very difficult.  Economic change faced us on a daily basis, finding food was a challenge, government workers were often unkind and grumbled at you and then winter would come.  It was a rough life and sometimes I felt we were living in a deep freeze with a dim light bulb turned on.  One of my American friends shared with me that one day her young son said to her, "I don't want to go out into Russia today."

Sometimes I confess "I don't want to go out into the world today."  I'd like to stay home reading a good book and drinking tea by my fireplace.  And yet, we are not supposed to spend our lives locked in at home.  We are sent as disciples into all the world to be reflections of Jesus Christ.  We are supposed to go out into the dark places of the world where we will experience evil and dark powers and therefore we need the full armor.

The night still seems a bit surreal.  We were in a small town in Ukraine with a medical team.  Again, early 90's.  We were to go to a small village the next morning and provide medical care but needed a place to sleep that night.  A small hotel had been located but they didn't have permission for foreigners to stay there.  They decided to house us anyway and there was no other option.  Holed up in our rooms we tried to stay quiet and not draw attention to ourselves, hoping the authorities would not discover our presence.  As we were settling in a motorcade of vehicles arrived.  It was the KGB and they wanted to know who was in the hotel.  Our Ukrainian leaders placed themselves in the frontline, as our protectors.

Under the cover of darkness the rest of us gathered to pray as a very loud argument ensued below us.  We asked for God's protection for all involved as the authorities became angry about these Christian doctors coming into their region.  They certainly didn't need God and they didn't need the help of these people.

Eventually the situation began to calm down on the first floor as the prayer meeting continued on the second.  An agreement was reached that the team would have to be gone by the time the police arrived at 7am.  They could get a little sleep but that was all.

We got up early and were long gone before the authorities returned.  We spent all day in a village that had been without healthcare for years.  Not even a bottle of Tylenol was available for them.  They were so grateful as we examined and ministered to several hundred that day.  When we finished there was no place to go.  We had no idea where we could lay our heads that night.  The people of the village offered to each take one of us to their home.  Technically this was against the law, they were not allowed to have foreigners spend the night without permission but it was late and we had nowhere to go.  One by one we went off with our new friends and hosts who found nooks and crannies in their humble homes in which to give us a little rest.  Again we got up early to leave before the KGB could get to us.

God's protection saw us through the remainder of the journey and eventually safely back in Kyiv.  Later we learned that the KGB had interrogated the villagers and fined all of those who kept us overnight.  Eventually we were able to send them money to repay them for their fines and their kindness.  But they had a new openness to a relationship with Jesus Christ, for he had been reflected in a village where the church had been closed and Christianity had become dim throughout years of Atheistic/Communist leadership.  I believe that God protected a rag tag group of disciples who were sent out to represent him in a hostile corner of the world.

I'm not sure what any day has in store but we cannot afford to "go out into the world" and not be prepared.  We must be ready for anything that may come our way and this can only happen when we put on the full armor of God.  Are you ready?  Let's go!

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for the promise of protection. Amen.

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