The Apostle Paul writing from prison to the church in Ephesus was no doubt guarded by a Roman soldier perhaps dressed in his full armor. Perhaps this was the impetus for the passage in Ephesians 6:10-18 on the armor of God. Paul looks at each piece and makes a spiritual application to the soldier of Christ and his spiritual warfare with the forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil. He describes for us 6 pieces of armor and then gives us the spiritual application of each piece. Then he describes the 7th spiritual weapon without its corresponding Roman piece of armor. That 7th powerful weapon is prayer. How do we put on this armor so that we will be able to have victory after victory in our spiritual life? I think the best way to put on our armor is described for us in the old gospel hymn: “put on the gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer”. We need to pray on each piece of armor.
The first piece of armor is called the belt of truth. We can put it on by praying something like: Lord I come to you today and wrap my mind with your truth. The devil and my own weak human flesh is constantly whispering lies to me. I wrap my mind today with your truth. It is true that you love me. It is true that Jesus died for me. It is true that I am your child. It is true that greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. Father, help me to tuck in the loose ends of my ragged thinking and be wrapped tightly in the belt of your truth.
The next piece of armor is called the breastplate of righteousness. We know that we cannot stand before a holy God in the filthy rags of our own righteousness. Father I have taken the perfect holy righteousness of Jesus and stand complete before You dressed and protected in His righteousness. As I put on His righteousness I also desire to reflect in my own practical living the positional righteousness that I have in Christ. Lord today help me to live holy, righteously and godly in this present evil world.
The third piece of armor is the shoes of the gospel of peace. Today Father I want to be prepared to share the gospel with someone. Wherever my steps take me let me be alert to the opportunities to speak a word for Christ. May my feet be prepared, my eyes open, and my lips ready to give a word for You.
The next piece of armor is the shield of faith. Dear Lord, the flaming arrows of temptation, trouble, and trials will be flying at me today trying to pierce through and burn sin in my heart. You alone are my shield. I take up my shield of faith today and hide under its protective power. I trust You, depend upon You, hide behind You. I look to You only to quench these fiery darts.
The fifth piece of armor is the helmet of salvation. Lord You have saved me. I am yours. Today I put on this salvation as a helmet to protect me from any doubts that may come from the enemy. Lord I know you have saved me and I put on this helmet of assurance so that I can have confidence of my eternal security. Any doubts are deflected when my helmet is strapped on.
The sixth piece of armor is the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. As the other pieces of armor were defensive this one is offensive. Lord as I read Your Word today, I will apply its sharpened edge first of all to the splinters of sin and the foreign growths in my own heart. Lord cut me with your scalpel that You may heal me. Then Lord help me to take this sharp sword and use it in my witnessing to the lost, in my teaching to the family of faith, and in cutting my way through this world’s jungle growth of error.
Lord I finish putting on my armor by taking up the weapon of prayer. I realize that I have no power on my own to win any victory with my self-determination or human power. I pray to You my Lord wrapped fully in the armor of God and depending on You alone for victory.
For many years I had a special key chain. It was made from a 1903 silver dollar that my grandfather handed down to me. It was very precious to me as it was the only thing I had from him except memories. I also have a pocket knife and a sharpening stone handed down to me from my father. These things had very little monetary value but reminded me of the influence of these two men in my life.
Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews lists so many people who were examples of faith. They are really our fathers in the faith. They are handing down to us some very exemplary qualities that are of great value if we would claim them. Among these great fathers of the faith in Hebrews 11 I am impressed with three of them that leave us a great inheritance.
Abraham was the father of obedience. Heb. 11:8 says: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going”. Abraham obeyed even when he did not have all the details. He obeyed God through his pain when he was told to sacrifice his son. We offer God so many excuses for not obeying God’s clear instructions.
Moses was the father of decision. When Moses grew up he made the decision to choose to identify with the people of God. That decision would cost him the loss of his prestigious position. It would cost him intense suffering with the Hebrews. Yet he choose to follow the Lord instead of enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season. We are called to make a similar decision. Choose to accept Christ and follow Him leaving Egypt behind.
Daniel was the father of steadfastness. His faith was so strong it enabled him to “stop the mouths of lions” (Heb. 11:33). His steadfast faith was also seen as he lived a consistent life in a foreign environment over a whole lifetime. We are called to the same steadfastness.
These fathers of the faith leave us something more valuable than a key chain or pocket knife. They leave a powerful legacy of obedience, decision, and steadfastness.
Have you ever thought of the times that God in His Word praises His children and gives them encouragement? Sometimes we wonder if those who He has lavished praise upon actually deserve it. I think of John the Baptist whom Jesus calls the greatest born of women. What a marvelous statement. Yet remember when John was in prison he sent word to Jesus just to ask Him if He was the One. This mighty prophet had a momentary period of doubt. I think of what the Word of God says of Moses being the meekest man in the earth. I can think of a few times when he didn’t seem so meek. I am also reminded of Lot whom 2 Peter describes as having a righteous soul. In the book of Judges Gideon was called a mighty man of valor long before he did much to prove that statement.
What are we to make of these instances of lavish praise? The first thing that I can see that we can learn is that our great God loves His children so much. He is always there eager to see us serve effectively and live honorably. Another lesson I think comes out of these praises is that failure does not have to define us. Every one of God’s children have failed in some way or another. Yet God is so loving and encouraging and stands ready to enable our second chances. We see also from scripture that God sees our potential not our perversion. Jesus called Peter the Rock long before he began to live rock-like. God knows what we can become when we put all of our trust in Him. Finally, we need to learn that our true worth as an individual comes from our righteous standing in Jesus Christ. Lot was less than righteous in many ways but He believed and God counted it to him for righteousness, just like Abraham and anyone else who places their faith in Jesus Christ. God calls us His children, His sons, His bride, and His beloved. We are said to be more than conquerors, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and His own special people.
Because of the power of God’s grace, we who are so undeserving receive lavish praise from our Lord.
Get ready my brother
Our Lord bids us come,
Put on your armor
There are battles to be won.
Our foe is the Devil
He shoots his fiery darts,
Trying to pierce through
And burn sin in our hearts.
Be strong in the Lord
And withstand the evil day,
Satan’s hordes surround us
Let’s keep them at bay.
Put on the girdle of truth
And righteousness as a breastplate,
The shoes of the gospel
And the shield of faith.
Take salvation’s helmet
And God’s Word as your sword,
Put them all on
And do battle for the Lord.
Keep your armor on
And never lay it down,
Till we reach the shores of heaven
And exchange it for a crown.
As a child I looked forward to the last day of school for many reasons but one of those reasons was so that I could go barefooted. Coming back to the house at the end of a long summer day playing outside required an important ritual. I had to wash my feet. I remember the wash basin on the front porch and the scrubbing with soap and water.
Jesus was about to celebrate Passover with his disciples in John 13. None of the disciples volunteered to wash the feet being that it was the job of the servant of the house. Before they ate however, Jesus wrapped a towel around Himself and began to go around to each of them and wash their dirty feet. He then taught them with these words: “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:13-15). The lesson is simple, we need to wash each other’s feet. How do we do that? I think Jesus was teaching us to serve other people in practical helpful ways. We should be looking for ways to help other people in the family of God. It may take the form of helping someone with a physical need, providing transportation, sharing a meal, giving someone of our time, visiting them, or just listening to them. There are a myriad of areas that could be called “washing feet”.
Our attitude is so important as we look for ways to wash one another’s feet. Jesus took the initiative and didn’t have to be asked to do it, He did it readily. He also did it humbly. As their leader He wouldn’t be expected to wash feet but kneeled down and washed every one of those 24 feet, and 120 toes. He did it lovingly as He knew that very soon He would be leaving them and going to the cross. He also did it to give all of us an example. We will never look more like the Master than when we are washing feet.
Mothers are not generally regarded as warriors. They are more nurturers and protectors. However the Bible describes some mothers who fought a different kind of battle. They were all engaged in in a hand to hand combat for their children.
In the Old Testament Hannah was childless. She prayed for a son earnestly and told the Lord if He would grant her request she would dedicate him to the Lord’s service. She was able to go through the pain of her situation by her faith in the Lord’s answer to her prayer. Hannah had her shield of faith.
The prophet Simeon told Mary what greatness her son, our Savior would achieve but also said that a sword would pierce through her own soul. Mary would have to watch her Son die on the cross. What a tremendous battle Mary went through on that day. Her only hope would be her faith that her son would rise from the grave. Mary had the shield of faith.
I think of Eunice, the mother of Timothy who had a great influence on her son. The Bible says that the genuine faith that was in Timothy was first displayed in his grandmother Lois and then modeled to Timothy by his own mother Eunice. In another scripture we have indications that Timothy’s own father was not a believer. Eunice worked hard to tutor her son in the scriptures and the lifestyle and behavior of those who believed in Jesus Christ. In order to accomplish her task with Timothy, Eunice put up her shield of faith.
Each of these mothers were warriors in their own rights. Their battles all involved their own children. They serve as examples to all mothers and grandmothers today. The front lines of today’s warfare is still fought for the children. No matter how old the children are mothers are still fighting. Sometimes like Mary the sword pierces through their soul as well. Sometimes like Hannah the prayers are so intense that others think they’re crazy. They have no concept of a mother’s battle. And sometimes like Lois and Eunice the task of modeling the faith never ends. Today’s warrior mothers still need to pick up the shield of faith in the battle for their children.
Our nation is filled with memorials. We can find monuments and statues everywhere of great people who made a difference in our history. We are also a nation of battlefields. The Revolutionary War and the Civil War are two important events that we should never forget. Throughout our country the battlefields of these wars remind us of people who exhibited the fullest measure of courage and sacrifice. Blood sanctified the ground as we choose to remember those who died there. I have visited some of these battlefields and always left with a renewed appreciation of those who fell on that sacred ground.
History’s greatest battlefield was Calvary. On that lonely hill the Savior fought the battle for our soul. The sacrifice of His blood paid the price for our freedom from sin. He fought the battle alone and won the victory. The forgiveness of our sins and our eternal destiny was the victory He secured for us on the cross of Calvary. In order to assure that we never forget what was accomplished for us on the cross Jesus instituted what we call the Lord’s Supper. As we gather together and take of the bread and the cup we are reminded of the broken body and the shed blood of our Lord. Communion is really a war memorial. We are commanded to frequently observe this ordinance. We are told in 1 Cor. 11:24-26: “And when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes”.
The next time we observe the Lord’s Supper remember we are really visiting a war memorial. When we take the bread and the cup let’s be sure to do it to honor and worship our Lord. After all He told us to do it “in remembrance of me”.
My wife and I frequented a local restaurant because of their reasonable prices. However the food at times lacked in flavor and quality. The waitresses were not courteous and the place was losing business. The owner put the restaurant up for sale and it was purchased. The new owners did a complete remodel of the facility. They hired a new chef and put out a new menu. When we visited the restaurant we were overwhelmed with the changes. The new management had transformed the menu, the quality of the food, and the whole atmosphere. Everything was new, even the care of the wait staff.
Under new management is a wonderful way of describing what happens when a person trusts Jesus Christ as his Savior. Paul told the Romans about this new management in Romans 8:9-11: “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” The old management of the flesh is no longer in possession of our lives. We are under the new management of the Spirit. His indwelling brings about a whole new atmosphere that Paul calls “life”. We are promised eternal life, we get to enjoy overcoming and victorious life, and we can daily live abundant life. We also get to participate in a Spirit-led life. Our old management of the flesh ran us into the ground with sin, defeat, and hopelessness. It eventually would lead us to eternal death. But when we received Christ, old things passed away behold all things became new (2 Cor. 5:17).
Are you still living under the old manager of the flesh? Don’t you think it is about time to receive Christ and put your life under new management?
Raising 6 children was a challenge to my wife and me. Especially when we took them into a store or a public place. Most of the time they were very well behaved. When we would take them into a candy store their eyes would bulge with the assortment of treats in front of them. Often we would tell them to narrow their choices and choose just “one thing”. For some of our kids narrowing down the choices to one thing was particularly difficult.
For the child of God life is filled with many choices to invest our attention, our years, and our delights. We may have spent our time working many jobs. We may have lived in different cities, and we may have had many friends in our life. However, in the midst of a life of many things there needs to be an overwhelming “one thing” that should characterize the believer. David puts in words what ought to be that “one thing” in Psalm 27:4. “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple”. David’s “one thing” was to worship and to love His Lord. Of course David had many responsibilities yet the overwhelming purpose of His life was to put the Lord first and to honor Him.
I think we get so focused on many things. Jesus even had to rebuke Martha who was rushing around getting supper ready and was consumed with many things. Jesus told her that “one thing” was needful. Martha needed to do what her sister was doing, spending time listening and loving her Lord. When asked what the greatest commandment was Jesus told them to love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and all your mind.
Are we scattered and preoccupied with a to-do list? Are we setting our affections on our families, our possessions, and our advancements? Don’t you think it is time for all of God’s people to narrow down our priorities to that all-consuming “one thing”?
Two men that I respect greatly recently went home to be with the Lord. Both men were committed believers in Jesus Christ and both men lived a long time. One lived to the ripe old age of 99 and the other 98. They died exactly two weeks apart. One was well known and spent his life serving the Lord in the spotlight and the other one was little known and spent his life serving God in the shadows. Billy Graham was faithful to the Lord with the talents and gifts God gave him and used them to the fullest. Norman McGowen, a retired World War II hero and mail carrier used his gifts to the fullest as well. Billy preached the gospel faithfully to millions, Norm taught his Sunday school class faithfully in a local church I pastored in Bremen Indiana. Billy and Norm both finished their course leaving behind an exemplary life that we should follow.
As I contemplate the legacy of these men I naturally wonder what kind of impact or example am I leaving behind. The apostle Paul had similar thoughts when he wrote: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Billy and Norm both will receive their crowns for faithful service to Christ. I wonder if we are finishing strong, fighting the good fight and keeping the faith. I am afraid that some believers have given up fighting against sin. Some of us are no longer keeping a watch on the faith revealed to us in scriptures. Instead of finishing their course strong, many believers are just coasting across the finish line.
Billy and Norm encourage me to live in such a way that I too may here those words: “well done, thou good and faithful servant”.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation