When the early Christian church was expanding after Jesus ascended into heaven, amazing things were taking place. Thousands were coming to know Christ as their Savior and the message of the gospel was being preached throughout the known world. These new believers were passionate about their new faith as well as the expansion of the Good News.
At the time, however, they were also being intensely persecuted. I find it interesting to think that while Christians everywhere were dying for their faith, somehow the church was still expanding. The message was getting out there, and people were responding by surrendering their lives to something that could potentially get them killed.
Every warrior knows that in order to succeed in battle, one must be prepared both offensively and defensively. Without one or the other, we are doomed to failure. At first glance, the armor of God is all about defense. We do, however, have one offensive weapon – the sword of the Spirit.
The Word of God is our sword – our only offensive weapon against the enemy.
Have you ever done something you knew in your gut was wrong? We all have regrets. I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the times when you actually had the opportunity to stop and think about your decision before you acted on it.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul presented a metaphor that would shape the way Christians view spiritual battle – the act of putting on spiritual armor. Ephesians 6:17 tells us to put on the helmet of salvation. The helmet is often the final piece of armor a soldier puts on before marching out into battle. Yet without it, the rest of the armor seems somewhat pointless. If your head is unprotected, it will only be a matter of time before the enemy takes you down.
When it comes to armor, the shield is an extremely vital piece – something I definitely wouldn’t want to go into battle without. Sure, I may be wearing body armor, but it’s my shield that allows me to protect the most vulnerable parts of me. I can maneuver it to guard me from all angles. And while my body armor can prevent me from being injured in an attack, my shield can keep me from getting hit in the first place.
What do shoes and peace have in common? Not much on the surface. Yet Paul tells Christians in Ephesians 6 to wear “shoes of peace” as part of our spiritual armor. (Ephesian 6:15)
When it comes to armor in general, the term “peace” doesn’t usually spring to mind. After all, armor is generally worn during times of war – not times of peace. So why would Paul tell us to wear peace when facing the enemy in warfare?
The breastplate is an extremely important piece of armor. It protects our heart and other vital organs. So when Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on the breastplate of righteousness, he was indicating the importance of righteousness in our lives.
Righteousness can’t be earned. Our own attempts to be righteous will always fail. In Christ, righteousness is granted to us as believers because of our faith.
Paul tells believers in Ephesians 6 to wear the belt of truth. In our culture, however, truth is relative. Your truth and my truth can completely contradict one another. Not only is this type of thinking considered okay, it is actually encouraged. Our culture even has a polite, socially acceptable word for it – tolerance.
Growing up in the church, I have been taught numerous times about the armor of God. In the book of Ephesians, Paul warns believers to be prepared for battle. He lays out a detailed list of armor that we as Christians should “put on” as we prepare for war. As a kid, I understood the mental image, but I never fully understood what this armor meant until I was older and faced the battle in a very real way.
Life can be difficult. We work hard, and we try to keep everything together; but life has a way of throwing us curve balls. Why do these things happen? How can we cope as believers?
A successful runner is ready for all of the challenges that may come. If they are preparing to race on a course with many hills, they focus on hill training. If they are training for a trail run, they will spend their time on trails. Their training will reflect the upcoming race they are about to run.
The same is true in our walk with God. He will often lead us through different terrains so that our faith and endurance grow. He knows the “race” we are preparing for, and He is faithful to “train” us appropriately. The road ahead can often be intimidating. It’s easy to allow fear to take over when you are “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” as David so eloquently put it. But David chose not to fear. He knew that he wasn’t alone on that road – and neither are we. Continue Reading
If you are a follower of Christ, you are in full-time ministry. Whether you are a pastor, a teacher, a nurse, an accountant, or a stay-at-home mom… you are called to represent Christ to everyone He has placed in your life. Pastors and teachers are wonderful (and we need them), but every believer is called to share Christ’s love, not just those in church leadership. Not all of us are called to be pastors or missionaries, but we are all called to serve, love others, and share the Gospel with those around us. Continue Reading
As a runner, it is important to never give up on the hills. Stay steady, maintain your form, and you will reach the top. The same is true in life.
Hill training can be very intimidating for the novice runner. Because I spend most of my time running indoors on a treadmill, I sometimes forget about hill training altogether. Training is essential, however, when it comes to tackling hills. Whether going uphill or downhill, both present a new set of challenges. And these challenges help us to grow as athletes – both mentally and physically. Continue Reading
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of training when it comes to running. My very first race was a 12k, and unfortunately, I wasn’t too prepared for it. To be honest, I had just started running a few weeks prior to the race. I made it through, but it was incredibly painful. I was sore for days, and I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle (or two). Needless to say, I will never try to do that again! Continue Reading