Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Defense and Offense

Ephesians 6:10-20:
Defense:
10 Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual [forces of] wickedness in high places.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, take the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Offense:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching out with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints [believers];
19 And for me [Paul], that the right words may be given to me, so that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in chains: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

If you've ever been in real spiritual trouble, you know how true verses 10-17 are.  It seems as if you are in a struggle that you cannot win, a fight where every blow of your enemy lands right where it hurts the most, and it's as if you are being crushed to death.  Many people know this experience, and it is real--as real as the sunset, or water, or rocks. 
There is only one way out if it, and that is to fight back.  Fortunately, we have weapons, even though it's very hard to remember them when we are in the middle of our personal battle. Sometimes it seems as if all the power is in the hands of the adversary, and the suffering we experience is immense. Other times, we feel totally compelled toward the dark side of our nature (oh, you didn't know anyone else had one?), and want, above all else, to fulfill the darkest desires we have. The message Paul sends us is, FIGHT! Use the weapons God has given you:
Truth (for example, the truth that God is real); the truth that Jesus Christ accepts you (John 6:37)
Righteousness (not your own, because in the middle of this battle you will feel as if you have none), the righteousness God gives to those who believe in Him and His Son (Romans 4)
The Gospel of Peace (Peace with God, the peace of God, peace with people) (Romans 5:1)
Faith: That stops all the arrows of evil--believing that God is on your side, knowing that He has a plan for you, understanding that He is never going to leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 11)
The helmet of salvation (understanding that it is God's grace that saves you, not your own works) (Ephesians 2:8-10)
The sword of the Spirit--the Word of God (Knowing Scripture passages, hanging on to them in your worst hours, using them to fight, to resist, even speaking and shouting them out to drive away the evil thoughts and depression. The way to do this is to find a Scripture or two that answers to your situation, and memorize them, and use them when you are fighting with the Adversary.  For example, if you are afraid of being lost after you become a child of God, Jesus said about His sheep (John 10): "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and nobody shall pluck them from my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all, and nobody is able to pluck them from My Father's hand;"
And John 6:37:  "He who comes to me I will never cast out..."
Sometimes you'll find yourself repeating words like those above over and over as you fight, until the oppression leaves, and you find yourself "sitting, clothed, and in your right mind."


And then, go on the offensive!
18 Pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching out with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints [believers];
Many of us don't know the struggles our brothers and sisters experience every day, and when we see their struggles, we judge.  
That's not the way.  The way is to PRAY! Prayer is the way you can defeat Satan's power in someone else.  It's the way to ensure that the Gospel goes out as it's written to those who have not yet heard.  It's the way to strengthen the brothers and sisters. You want your brother or sister to do better, be better? Pray for them. Pray more for them.  Pray again for them.  Stand with them in their battles as you pray.  
John says about the same thing:  "If anyone sees his brother (sister) commit a sin which is not unto death, he shall pray for him, and God will give him (the brother or sister) life..."
You want your friends (enemies?) to be stronger Christians? Pray. You want a stronger church? Pray. You want your pastor to preach better? Pray.  Many pastors and teachers can't preach or teach with power because nobody is praying; many cannot exercise their spiritual gifts because they are oppressed, depressed, and suppressed.  How to solve that?  PRAY.
I might say, "Pray, don't Pry..." don't try to know everything about someone's private life.  God knows it.  Use the energy you would ordinarily use in gossip for prayer.  Watch things happen. Watch God work.