We have talked all week about the Full Armor of God. Today we are finishing up this series with the last but definitely not least item of our equipment for battle. This item is prayer. Paul did not use a piece of Roman armor to connect prayer with, but it is actually so very important. It may seem to be an afterthought, but as you read today, what do you think?
Ephesians 6:18 of Verses 10-18 NIV
“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.”
Are you well-equipped to deal with whatever comes your way today? Did you know that God has a plan laid out for us so that we can live our lives for His glory which actually includes being well-equipped to deal with the obstacles and issues the enemy hits us with? As Christians, we have the great gift of the Holy Spirit coming to live in our hearts to help us every day. He has given us what we need, according to 2 Peter 1, for life and godliness. So we can glorify Him! Today, we are going to be talking about part of that equation. And what a wonderful equation it is!!!
We are continuing our closer look at the full armor of God today. I don’t know about you, but I have thought quite a bit about the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, and the Shoes of Readiness of the Gospel of Peace today. We are well-equipped, and for so much more than most of us realize or practice.
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.
Have you thought about the similarities of our holding our ground and not allowing the enemy move us and how the defensive team in a football game is also trying to keep the offensive side from moving them back? Those defensive players really work hard to hold their ground. Holding your ground is hard work. Sometimes it is harder than others.
Today, we continue in Ephesians 6 and we are getting into the specific pieces of the armor and their purposes. Remember, as we get into them that the purpose of all of it is that we not give the enemy of God any ground – that God gets His due glory out of our lives.
Ephesians 6:14-16 of Verses 10-18 NIV
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes with the gospel of peace.”
We all have different things that we fight. I seem to be constantly doing battle with my weight. Some people battle high blood pressure and others diabetes. Some are battling their bosses and some are battling their co-workers.
One battle all Christians constantly fight is the fight with the enemy of God and therefore, our enemy too. He does all he can to distract us from doing God’s will and glorifying Him. He uses many different tactics, doesn’t he? Ephesians 6 tells us to do one main thing: Stand your ground!
Today, we are continuing in Ephesians 6. We are getting deeper into the armor of God and spiritual warfare.
Ephesians 6:13 of Verses 10-18 NIV
“Therefore 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.”
You may be of the “middle school” generation, but when I went to school, we had elementary, junior high, and high school. It really does not matter because we all know how that age is. Some of the nicest adults you will ever meet were horribly mean people in junior high school. Many sworn enemies were declared and generally, they changed from week to week. Am I right??
Today and all this week we are going to spend some time in Ephesians 6 talking about God’s and our true enemy, how God tells us to deal with him, and the full armor of God.
It is going to be a great week!
Ephesians 6:10-12 of Verses 10-18 NIV
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.For 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. Therefore 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. 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.”
Last time we talked about God’s love and how He wants us to love others. Today, we are staying on the topic of God’s huge love.
John 3:16 NIV
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The Ultimate Demonstration
The ultimate demonstration of God’s love to us was that He sent His dearly loved Son to live here in human flesh and then die for us – for our salvation through the forgiveness of our sin. I am sure you have heard and maybe even seen on film accounts of the crucifixion of Christ. I do not really think that anyone can accurately describe the horror of that day in the life of Jesus.
We are probably all very familiar with this verse. It is probably the most quoted and most memorized verse in the Bible. So, let’s slow it down and really think about what God has done for you and for me and why.
Let’s look at the first part of our verse:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…”
The First Sin
When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they brought sin into the world. Since then, every person born has been born into sin and under its curse. This did not surprise God. He knew they were going to sin. He already had a plan in place then to redeem people back to Himself. His plan included His Son. His Son, Jesus willingly participated because He wanted what His Father wanted.
We were all guilty of sin with Adam and Eve. Not only were we born into sin but we have also all committed many sins in our lives. But, God did this because He loves us so much. Jesus Christ went through unimaginable things for us. The worst thing was being completely separated from His Father. I do not think we can really understand how horrific that was for Him.
It amazes me that God knew they would sin and He still chose to create them… us.
And the last half:
“…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
And though according to 2 Peter 3:9, God does not want anyone to die and be separated from Him for all eternity, He is holy and what is near Him must be holy too.
So, those who believed in Jesus for their forgiveness and their salvation, will not die and be separated from Him because the work Jesus did on that cross made us holy. We need only to believe that He saved us. When we grasp what He saved us from and what He brought us to, gratitude and a desire to please Him will be our natural reaction.
How Great and How Big?
When I really think about how much God loves us, it really blows my mind. How about you? And I doubt that I even have a clue how great His love really is.
I tend to see God’s love like my love. In all honesty, I probably humanize Him so much more than I even realize. Do you do that? You know, to think about Him with the limits like a human person? That would definitely be limiting my grasp on how big His love is.
When I need to remind myself how big God is, I go to Job 38-40. The first 3 verses are enough to make you shudder:
Job 38:1-3, 4-5
Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that darkens My counsel without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you will answer Me.”
God goes on to say:
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell Me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?”
These chapters really help me to correct my perspective. God goes on for 4 long chapters. He brings Job to repentance and lovingly restores him.
Yes, He is so big and so is His love. As 1 John 4:8 and 4:16 say, “God is love”, and His love is proportionate to His bigness and His greatness.
He really does love us with His unfathomable love. There is nothing to compare to Him or His love. We must trust that He tells us the truth when He says that He loves us with a huge love. After all, He is holy and He cannot lie.
I cannot stand to think that my kids are unhappy or hurting in any way. It just hangs on me like a giant weight. They are both so far away and even if I could just reach out and grab them, they have real life-size grown-up stuff going on now. It is not like kissing boo-boos anymore.
So as the Father sent Jesus to fulfill the plan for our salvation, knowing what He would go through, knowing what we dirty sinful humans would do to Him, knowing that He would have to turn His back on Jesus while He bore our sin on His shoulders – how incredibly hard that must have been.
“For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son…”
His love is huge!! And He loves you and He loves me with that huge love. What a wonderful God we serve!
Lord, I thank You for loving us. I thank You for opening up a way for us to get a glimpse of the magnitude of that love. Help us, please, to be what You want us to be and help us to glorify You with our lives. In the beautiful name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
If you ask 10 people, “What is love?”, you may very well get 10 different answers. However, since God defines love, let’s dig into what He says love is.
Has anyone ever told you that they loved someone and told you about a particular incident, and you thought – “That does not sound like love!”
Last time, we talked about God’s love. I shared this passage near the end of the devotional so I wanted to spend a little more time in these verses today.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
“Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
“Love never fails.”
The Corinthian Church
The book of 1 Corinthians is a letter written by Paul to the young Christian church in the Greek city of Corinth. Because of the background of the people, and other things, there seemed to always be a lot going on in the church that could or was already causing trouble in the church.
One of the things Paul emphasizes is love. Loving others is so important and the people were not holding to that.
So Paul starts out by saying that if we do not have love we really do not have anything of worth – wisdom, riches, beauty… nothing.
Let’s go to Verse 4:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
1 – patient – bears with other people without getting frustrated or angry
2 – kind – to treat people with care and not injure even with words, except in loving correction
3 – does not envy – does not want what someone else has and does not become resentful
4 – does not boast – not a braggart – not rubbing possessions or even blessings in the faces of others. This does not mean that we should not praise God and give Him glory for His blessing to us.
5 – not proud – A proud person may think they are better than other people, or even think they do not need God.
“It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
Love is not…
6 – rude – having a deliberate lack of consideration for others
7 – self-seeking – only or mainly working to further their own interests
8 – easily angered – obviously – doesn’t get angry quickly – not short-fused
9 – no record of wrongs – not keeping count or tallying wrongs, forgiving instead of holding onto things
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”
10 – So, when a person who loves hears something bad they do not get excited and spread it around or join in. They delight and rejoice in the truth, and do what is right according to Scripture.
11 – protects – takes care of and protects relationships and people they love
12 – trusts – gives the benefit of the doubt; trusts God with that person
13 – hopes – looks for God’s best to happen
14 – perseveres – it does not give up on loving someone
“Love never fails.”
When we as Christians are seeking to love others with the love of the Lord, He helps us to do that by the power of His Holy Spirit. Christ will love through us – and that love never fails.
(I used the Holman Commentary for the Book of 1 Corinthians and the Matthew Henry Commentary in preparing this study.)
So what do we do with this today?
My main takeaway is that this is part of God’s own character. This is how He loves. He inspired Paul to write these beautiful verses.
It is also His definition of love for us to live by. I think this is a great set of verses for us to commit to memory so when that person at work tramples on my/your very last nerve we can say to ourselves “Love is patient, love is kind…” because we know we are called to love others and according to Luke 10:25-37, those people do qualify as our neighbors, huh? As unlovable as people can be, God can help us love them.
Lord, I thank You for teaching us about Yourself and about how we should be loving others – what it looks like. Please help us to glorify You in all we do. Make us what You want us to be. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.
After the last post about the importance of God’s Word and His emphasis on it, I was thinking about how a person can fall in love with God’s Word and with God Himself. The idea of falling in love with God may be a little foreign to you at this time but bear with me, and read on.
There are places in the Bible when you see and can almost feel God’s mighty power and His hugeness. There are also places where you can see and know that God is holy and what that means. Then, there are places in the Bible where God shows us His great love, His wonderful tenderness, and His deep compassion. Today, we are going to talk about one of those sweet places in His Word.
“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'”
There are so many places where God shows us His tenderness. Even in a scene as hard to fathom as the crucifixion, there is huge tenderness for us. We needed His salvation so desperately and in His tender love, He made a way for that.
This verse in Jeremiah 31, is one of my favorites and came to mind when I was thinking about the tender love of God.
The definition of tenderness is – gentleness and kindness.
So though the love of God could have the power of a hurricane, He is gentle and kind as He brings us to Himself.
Let’s go to the Verse:
“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying…”
So the LORD had spoken to them in the past, maybe on Mount Sinai.
“…’I have loved you with an everlasting love…'”
God’s love is everlasting which means forever into the past and forever into the future! It truly has no end.
“‘…I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'”
This is, of course, God speaking. The word drawn here means that He pulled us to Himself.
And He did it with loving-kindness. I am sure you see what I mean about His wonderful tenderness.
Often, a person’s salvation experience will begin with fear of hell because of that person’s realization that he or she is a sinner, as all of us are. But when true salvation comes it is because the person realizes that God has made a beautiful way for us to be forgiven and to be reconciled back to Himself. Then hell becomes a non-issue for that new believer and the love of God is what begins to work in them and change their life. And they begin sharing His love with the people around them.
When I read this verse, I think about how safe I am in His grasp and how safe all believers are in His grasp. His hand is strong and mighty to hold us, yet He does not crush us in His grasp. His love for us is so great.
God is Love
I may be repeating myself but it is worth repeating:
God is love, but love does not define God as it seems to here. God defines love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
“Love never fails…”
God defines love. These verses define love in words that also describe God. He is so good and He loves us so much. He is all the above descriptors toward us.
I hope you will take a few minutes and just think about God and His amazingly great love. Then, think about the fact that you as His child are the object of that amazingly great love. Let it soak into your soul. Let it wash over you like a warm shower in the morning. He does love you so!
Thank You, Lord, for You beautiful and great love for us. Help us please to see it, know it and love You back with all that we are. Make us what You want us to be. In the great name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I pray. Amen.
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word.
I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands.
I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.
Praise be to You, O LORD; teach me Your decrees.
With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.
I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.
I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.”
This psalm is very well-known because, as I am sure you are aware, it is the longest chapter in the Bible. It has 176 verses. It is broken into 22 – 8 verse stanzas.
Nearly every verse in the chapter of the total 176, has a word in it referring to God’s Word. Each of the above verses has at least one and Verse 16 has two. What is really amazing is that the verses do not say the same thing over and over. It is really a wonderful and very rich chapter!
So, how important is God’s Word? How important is it that we know and apply God’s Word to our lives? How do we do that?
You got it!! We read it, study it, hear it preached, talk about it, and meditate on it (take quiet time and prayerfully think about it).
What kind of emphasis do you think God is putting on His Word here if He has had a 176 verse chapter written about it? And this isn’t counting all the other times He talks about the importance of His Word throughout the Bible.
I do not know if this was for you today, but it was for me. I know it was different from the usual format. Back to normal next time… maybe.
Love you guys!! Have a blessed day!!
Lord, I do thank You so much for Your Word today. Please help us to fall in love with it – completely! In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.
Do you ever struggle with trusting God when things get rocky? I do not know anyone who does not struggle at times. I have had my share of struggling just in the last few weeks. We all struggle at times.
In the last few entries, we have talked about growing in our faith and becoming more like Jesus. In the last verse we looked at, Paul talked about how, at the end of his life, he wanted to see them shine like stars as they held out the “word of life” to the people around them. Today, we will continue talking about Paul and where he is in his life.
Philippians 2:17-18 NIV
“But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”
We must remember that Paul was in jail when he wrote this letter to the young Philippian church. He was not in a good situation at all and felt that this imprisonment may end with his execution for his teaching and preaching. He was trusting that God’s perfect will and timing would be the deciding factor in this. However, he was preparing these new believers for what may come and he wanted them to trust God with the outcome too.
Let’s go to Verse 17:
“But if I am being poured out like a drink offering…”
The Drink Offering
Paul, being a well educated Jewish man, would have been very familiar with all the offerings and sacrifices that the Jews were instructed to make. In Numbers 15:1-10, the drink offering is spoken of, as being added to the offering or sacrifice the worshiper was bringing. A drink offering was poured out as an offering in worship to God. It was an outpouring of love.
For Christians, the intricate sacrificial system of the Old Testament had changed, because Jesus was the ultimate and all-sufficient sacrifice for all who believe. So, Paul is saying that if his trial does not go well and he is executed, then he will willingly be an offering poured out in worship to God – he would willingly offer himself up to God if that was God’s will.
More of Verse 17:
“…on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith…”
Paul is using the terms “sacrifice and service” because they indicate submissive hearts full of faith. The Christians at Philippi deeply desired to serve and obey Christ to the glory of God.
Finishing up Verse 17:
“…I am glad and rejoice with all of you.”
So Paul is saying that he wants God’s will and that he will rejoice with the Philippians as they grow in their faith, serve and glorify God.
Now to Verse 18:
“So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”
Paul does not want them to struggle in their faith if he is executed, but to continue to be obedient, serve, and glorify God.
What Can We Take Away From This?
No matter what is going on in our lives and the lives of the people around us, we need to trust God that He is in complete control. We need to know that His way is absolutely the best way. We need to rest in these facts.
One day you will say that I am a broken record saying this over and over, but it is so true!!
Seek Him to know Him.
Pray that He will help you know Him, trust Him, and love Him more.
It all begins with knowing Him better.
That will lead to trusting Him more.
Then your love for Him will grow.
Then you go back to knowing Him better and so on.
This is a beautiful self-perpetuating cycle that grows broader as you grow in your relationship with Him. So keep growing in your knowledge of Him and everything else follows. Keep asking Him to help you, because of course, this beautiful self-perpetuating cycle is powered by the Holy Spirit Himself.
Lord, I thank You for Your Word. I thank You for showing us how to trust You and thank You for the example of Paul for us to identify with. I ask You that You would help us to seek You, know You, trust You and love You more every day. Help us to always be growing in our relationship with You. In the beautiful name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.