Monday, March 29, 2010

The Armory of God

As we walk through our daily lives, we seldom realize the battle that is raging all around us. Some visualize a battle as being somewhere on a battlefield with the sound of artillery and gunfire all around, not in some quite home in suburbia. But, if you look around you will see the evidence is as clear as the sound of gunfire. With tempers flaring, voices bickering and arguing, the deafening sound of anger simmering just under the surface and the cry of a wounded soul.

The battle rages right under our noses, but have we become too callous to recognize it? Maybe we are desensitized, and somehow write it off to daily life. That is not what God purposed our lives to be. Instead of growing in love and compassion toward those in our homes and neighborhoods, we turn a blind eye or make an irrational judgment call. We try to maintain peace in our homes, by giving into the whims of our children and spouses to keep from facing the reality that we are in trouble. We will settle for “good enough” instead of passionately pursuing all God has for us.

In war, there are victims and victors. We all want to win, but we haven’t the strength in and of ourselves to wage a counterattack, that is where the Holy Spirit comes into play. The Holy Spirit ignites our sensitivity to the sinful world we live in and the sin that still resides in us. When Jesus was about to return to heaven he told his disciples that he was not abandoning them, but would send the Holy Spirit. (John 16:5-11). God the Holy Spirit is at work in the world today.

I am sure many have heard of the Armor of God but either don’t use it or don’t understand it. Paul urged us to be strong with the Lord’s mighty power and put on the all of God’s armor (Ephesians 6:10-12). Then he went on the describe the equipment; Belt of Truth, Breastplate of Righteousness, Shoes of Peace, Shield of Faith, Helmet of Salvation, Sword of the Spirit, and of course prayer. (Ephesians 6:13-18).

So how does this equipment defeat evil? We work with the Holy Spirit who gives us strength to continue to stand against all attacks. These attacks are not what some might think, because they are spiritual in nature and the primary purpose is to get us to stop trusting in the Lord and get us walking again in our own strength. We still choose our actions at any given moment, that is why seeking the Lord and obeying the Word of God is vital to our success, knowing what action to take in every situation.

Belt of Truth: Think of this as your personal experience with the Lord. Be mindful of the truth that God has revealed to you. Hold fast to your salvation experience or those undeniable encounters with the risen Lord.

Breastplate of Righteousness: Think of this as the truth of your salvation. The blood of Christ has cleansed you from all unrighteousness and you are a new creation, even though you are still growing in the grace of God and learning his ways.

Shoes of Peace: Think of this as whom you represent. You are a child of God on a mission to bring the Good News to those who are stumbling in darkness. Jesus said that the world would know we are his followers because of our love for one another. We should always walk in forgiveness.

Shield of Faith: Think of this as the truth you have learned in scripture, your “Aha” moments when what the scripture describes is what you have found to be true.Discovering that God is our protector. Standing firm in your faith will send the evil one running.

Helmet of Salvation: The battle begins in your mind so guard your thought life and bring every thought captive to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Don’t dwell on evil thoughts, because they will lead to evil actions.

Sword of the Spirit: Think of this as the truth that is spoken through you by the Holy Spirit. The word of the Lord is sharper than a double edge sword able to get to the heart of the matter. Your words should always be encouraging and loving to those who hear them.

Of course prayer: Begin each waking moment in prayer and continue through your day. Be mindful of the ever-presence of the Lord and his tender care of you.

As you begin to use this armor not as defense but offense against the evil in this world, you will begin to walk in the victory that Jesus won for us at the cross.

Copyright©2010 –tathorpe – All Rights Reserved-

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Two Enemies

As a child, I was taught about our enemy Satan, otherwise known as the Devil. I was told that he was out to get us and he has a whole army of demons with him. What I understood the difference between God and Satan was God is good and Satan is bad. But no one mentioned the enemy that was the closest and most difficult to understand, my own flesh.

Some still misunderstand the powers between God and Satan. Some think of them as two opposing sides of equal strength. Satan loves for us to believe that, so he continues to perpetrate that lie. Fortunately for us that is false, our Almighty God is supreme, Satan has absolutely no chance of success.

Whatever purpose Almighty God had for not crushing Satan and his rebellion against God's authority when it happened, is a mystery. Perhaps it is the same mystery we experience when we are not immediately punished for our sin, but we do experience the consequences. I believe it is God’s mercy and his all-encompassing knowledge that brings all things into his will for his glory and fulfillment of his plans.

When I first began walking with the Lord, I would often wonder why God told Adam that he could consume anything but, stay away from the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil? I now understand the Lord never wanted them to know anything but his goodness and provision. He also desired their trust and obedience to his authority. But if Adam were not given a choice, then his love and worship would have been meaningless. God desires honesty and true commitment, not mindless homage.

We were all born with the heritage of Adam, wanting to live life on our own terms, doing things on our own way. Even those of us who have been born again into the new life Jesus purchased for us, still struggle with obeying God because we still live in these flesh bodies.

The Bible instructs us on how to succeed in overcoming these two enemies, First Paul told us to “Put on the whole armor of God, so that we can stand against the strategies and tricks of the Devil” (Ephesians 6:13-18). This is vital to our success in our daily walk.

Satan deceived Eve, by a carefully laid a trap. He made it seem as though disobeying was not that bad, by saying “they would not die” (Genesis 3:4). That is Satan’s primary strategy to trick you into believing a “watered down” version of God’s Word. He is a master of deceit, so we must not only know God’s Word but also cling to it. Jesus stood victoriously against Satan when he was tempted. (Luke 4: 1-13). We must take God at His Word and believe the promises he has made.

The second enemy is our own flesh. The Bible instructs us how to take charge of the flesh, by surrendering ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit. When we learn how to say “no” to our flesh and “yes” to the Spirit’s leading, we will have continual victory over evil thoughts and attitudes that dishonor our Lord.

“If your sin nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace. For the sin nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s Law and it never will. That is why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit, if you have the Spirit of God living in you. Remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them are not Christians at all” (Romans 8:6-9 NLT).

With the Spirit of God in us, we will have victory over both of these enemies that are in constant battle against the plans the Lord has for us. Stand firm in the truth you know. Don’t let Satan rob you of the truth of your salvation and all the promises God has made to you. Stand firm against your flesh; get rid of the world’s way of living and thinking. Don’t let it rob you of the living testimony of Jesus Christ to the world.

Copyright©2010 tathorpe-All Rights Reserved-

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Character Assassination

One of the most debilitating events in a Christian’s life is going through the trial of character assassination, aka gossip. The scripture reminds us “our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities of the spiritual realm” (Ephesians 6:12), but it sure doesn’t feel that way when we look in the physical face of the person who has betrayed us and says unkind things about us.

Jesus said, “God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember the ancient prophets were persecuted too!” (Matthew 5:11-12 NLT). That scripture encourages me, but the pain is still real and the wound is sometimes deep.

I have recently gone through this trial, and its devastating effects. I kept reminding myself of the Lord’s words and knowing in my mind the only reason I was under attack was because I was representing Christ, but that didn’t ease the pain or the intensity of the trial.

I kept crying out to the Lord for help. I asked him to fill me with his peace, his love, his patience, his kindness, his faithfulness and his self-control. I asked for the strength to forgive those who were attacking me and love them as he would. Everyday he helped me, but I was wounded by those I tried to love. I walked in forgiveness that was the only way I was able to go on. The Holy Spirit reminded me that Jesus also loved Judas.

One morning on the way to work, the Lord spoke to my heart through a Christian song that was playing. Jesus was beaten by sinful man, mocked, cursed, spat on and publicly humiliated by those he came to love. He paid the ransom for all our souls. Then it hit me, I had received the honor to suffer for Christ. (Romans 8:17) Somehow, we forget that our faith is only real when it is tested. Testing comes in all shapes and sizes.

The Apostle Peter wrote, “For God is pleased with you when, for the sake of your conscience, you patiently endure unfair treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing right and are patient beneath the blows, God is pleased with you. This suffering is all part of what God has called you to. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2: 19-21 NLT). This statement no way condones physical abuse, but confirming the reality of the enemy and the war that has been waged against our souls.

The greatest lesson I have learned through this trial is although I felt I was alone in this suffering, I was never alone, Jesus was right there beside me. We forget his promise never to leave us or forsake us. When our pain is so real, we tend to recoil and forget he is ever present. Jesus also knew this pain when he cried out from the cross, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 16:34). His mind knew that the Father could never forsake him, but the intensity of the pain, made it feel as if he had.

If you are suffering from a character assassination, try to remember you are in good company Jesus suffered this way also. Hold tightly to your faith and trust that the Lord is your only judge and he will exonerate you.

To those who are caught up in the sin of gossip, let me warn you that you are an enemy of the cross. “There are six things the Lord hates, no seven things he detests:
Haughty eyes
A lying tongue
Hands that kill the innocent
A heart that plots evil
Feet that race to do wrong
A false witness that pours our lies
A person who sows discord among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19 NLT)

If any of these things strike a cord with you, confess them and go make right the wrong you have done. “You can be sure that no immoral, impure or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is really an idolater who worships the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him.” (Ephesians 5:5-6 NLT).

May the Lord our God bless us as we obey his word. May the Lord continue to give us strength as we stand on the side of integrity and honor.

Copyright©2010 tathorpe –All Rights Reserved-