Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Make War: "Over Armor 2"

"We must protect this house," the ad for Under Armor says. This phrase is applicable to the disciple who goes to war against the powers and principalities. The Bible tells us that our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The Belt of Truth holds everything together, allowing the disciple to tuck the robes into the belt to run from the enemy, or to run into the heart of the battle as led by the Spirit, guided by God's Truth, who is Jesus. The Breastplate of Righteousness gives the confidence which the disciple needs to go to battle. Through the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us by God, we are loved by the Father in the same way and in the same amount as Jesus Christ himself, because of this righteousness from Christ. The shoes that are empowered by the Gospel of Peace permit us to go into battle with the one mission that is critical, the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ. With these shoes we are thus prepared for the long walk which is ahead, taking us to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.

In this sermon, we tackle the final pieces of over armor which Paul instructed us to wear daily.
In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.   Ephesians 6:16-17
Paul defines these three pieces of spiritual armor which the disciple must put on, starting with the Shield of Faith that stops the fiery "darts" of the enemy, the fiery arrows of the devil. This shield of faith is the fourth piece of armor which Paul instructs us to "wear."

Shield of Faith:

It is the "small stuff" which fells us. The devil loves to use "the little offense" to tear us down. It is a small fiery dart that knocks us off the walk with Christ. It is nearly insignificant, yet we are felled beside our shield which we left face down on the battlefield.

1.We exaggerate the size of these "darts" which cause us to take offense. We are waylaid by the world's perspective about the little things which are happening. When compared to the eternal wealth which God has promised for us, these tiny offenses are ridiculous. No matter how "bad" it was, the offense was tiny compared to God's glorious gift of eternal life. 2. Fiery darts come in the form of bitterness and unforgiveness, and we are felled beside our unused shield. We cannot allow the dart to end our faith-walk or our relationships within the Body of Christ, the Church. We have to tear down this bitterness in the name of Jesus! No one should be found with a little smouldering dart stuck in their heart. The root of bitterness will "defile many people." Don't let this bitter root defile you or the church! Yet, we believe that we have a right to be bitter because of this "precious" little dart in our chest. Still, we have to let it go. Years can pass with the dart dangling from the chest like a badge of honor, keeping the believer from the life of God. 3. The darts come in plurality. They come by way of many trials of many kinds. "At every level, there is another devil" - as we mature, Satan tries out new darts to bring us down to bitterness and unforgiveness.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.   James 1:2 
While James tells us to take joy in troubles, Paul makes it clear that we should take up the shield of faith at just the right moments. We cannot hold the shield continuously, or we would not be able to live our lives or go the distance. The shield is for the fiery arrows. We get darts and arrows every time we do what God wants us to do. We get arrows when we are near the victory line in Christ in something He has called us to. In those kinds of situations, the darts will fly! We then begin to feel the piercing flames in our flesh. Therefore, we must learn to raise the shield of faith at these moments! Yet, we should understand that each arrow is permitted by God who may allow Satan to fire away at us. "Satan has asked permission to sift you as wheat," Jesus said to Peter just before he denied Him three times, "but I have prayed that you will be restored and will return to encourage the brethren." With this understanding, James said to enjoy the ride!
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.   James 1:3-4
The shield used by the centurions of the Roman army was similar in size to a present day door. When these "doors" were placed together on the battlefield they stopped the enemies arrows and fiery darts. For us, the same approach is effective when we link up with a brother or sister in Christ. Together, with this super protection, we who are born of God overcome the world!  This produces the victory that has overcome the world for many centuries -- our faith.

The Helmet of Salvation:

What are we saved from? We are saved from several things through the blood of Christ.
We are saved from our sins  Titus 3:5
We are saved from our enemies Ps 18:3
We are saved from hell and death. Matt 10:28
We are saved from an empty life.  1 Peter 1:3
And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.  Romans 5:9
We are save by God, for God, from God! We are saved from the wrath of God and His condemnation for eternity.
1. We have been saved - past tense.
God saved you by his grace when you believed.  Ephesians 2:8
2. We are being saved now - present tense.
3.  We are being saved in the future - future tense. 
This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Romans 13:11 
Jesus is coming back to save us. We have to be mentally tough and deal with the challenges in our lives. Lebron James was mentally tough when he scored at the end of the 7th game. Michael Jordan was mentally tough when he hit those last second shots to win multiple championships. We have to be mentally tough.
. . . for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.    Matthew 24:10-14
We have read the end of the Book, and we know that our "redemption draws nigh."  With the Helmet of Salvation, we are saved, we are being saved, and some day soon we will be saved. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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