Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 11:45 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Not By Might.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV). Trials Which Test US All of us will face some types of difficulties and trials in this life which will test our faith and our stamina. We may suffer a miscarriage, a death in the family, a divorce, betrayal, bad health, an accident, birth disorders, rejection, persecution, trauma, marriage difficulties, problems with our children or grandchildren, homelessness, or loss of job and income, etc. Some of these trials may hit us very hard, depending upon the severity of the situations, and we may lose heart, or we may feel as though we lack the strength to go on, or we may lose interest in some things we used to do, possibly because it feels like it just doesn’t matter anymore. Perhaps you can identify. We lose heart, sometimes, just because our hearts are breaking, and because life as we knew it, or as we had hoped it would be, took a drastic turn in another direction. God created us to be emotional creatures. He gave us hearts and the ability to feel pain, sorrow, and disappointment, as well as gladness. One of the reasons Jesus took on human flesh is so he could identify with us in our weaknesses, and so he could become our compassionate and merciful high priest. He gave us the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and our counselor, to teach us, to encourage us and to strengthen us in our faith. He knew there would be these times in our lives when we would need to be comforted, strengthened and encouraged. Yet, sometimes we lose heart because we lack understanding of God’s ultimate purposes in allowing these things to come into our lives. And, that is when he reminds us that his grace is sufficient for all we need, for his power is perfected IN our weaknesses. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have an enemy. His name is Satan, or the devil, or Lucifer, or the Dragon. He hates God. He hates Jesus, and therefore he hates us. He wants nothing more than to destroy our lives and to bring us back underneath his power and control. He will use these difficult times in our lives as opportunities to attack us, to tempt us, and to try to get us to give up hope, and to lose heart. He will lie to us. He will try to get us to focus on our circumstances and to get our eyes off Jesus. He will put doubts in our minds concerning God’s promises to us. He may even try to convince us that we got a raw deal, and that God didn’t come through for us like he had promised, or like we thought he promised. He will try to convince us that, just because it didn’t happen yet, that it isn’t going to happen, but God’s timing is not the same as our timing. His timing is perfect. Not Without Resource God did not leave us without resource, though, for when our enemy throws his darts at us. God gave us all we need to stand against the devil’s schemes, and Satan has lots of schemes (tricks, manipulations, deceptions), too, which he likes to use against God’s chosen ones. So, it is helpful if we can become aware of his schemes so that we are not caught off guard, and so we are not taken back, and so we don’t lose our footing when those attacks do come. Yet, the only way we are going to become aware of how Satan works is by studying the word of God, by being sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and by being open to hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches, so that when the Spirit speaks, and he shows us that something is wrong, instead of just closing our ears, because we don’t like the message, we listen up, and we heed the warnings, and we turn away from Satan and the ways of this sinful world, and we follow God/Jesus Christ wherever he leads us. When we ignore God’s gentle warnings to us, and we follow what the world is saying or what our flesh desires, then we begin to grieve and to quench the Spirit to where we are not as sensitized to his voice, and so we begin to feel more and more liberty to do what we know is not pleasing to God. So many Christians (or professing Christians) are living just like the world because they have resisted the Spirit’s voice and have determined their own steps, and have allowed things into their minds and hearts which are contrary to God’s divine character, will and purposes for our lives. And, eventually, they become desensitized to so much of it and they don’t even see all the subtle lies of Satan strewn all through it. So, when Satan, thus, brings false teaching into the church, they don’t recognize it, because their minds are clouded with what is worldly, and they have lost that spiritual sensitivity. They often prefer the lies to the truth, because the lies are more pleasing to their ears. So, before we can put on the armor of God, we first of all need to put off the flesh. Jesus died, not so we could be saved (past), live our lives how we want, and gain heaven when we die. He died so that we would die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). Those who are no longer under condemnation, and in whom the righteous requirements of the law will be fully met are those who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Ro. 8:1-14). The way in which we come to know Jesus is by putting off our old lives of living for sin and self, by being renewed in the spirit of our minds, and by putting on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:17-24). The Whole Armor Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 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 firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. When I was much younger, I didn’t understand, practically speaking, how to put on the armor of God. It is not some prayer we pray, or some formula we follow, or some ritual we perform. It involves putting off the flesh and putting on the Spirit; resisting the lies of Satan and putting on the truth. Basically, when we are tempted to sin against God, to doubt his promises, and to respond in fear, we refuse the lies, we don’t entertain them in our minds, and we, instead, get into the Word and we listen to godly music/lyrics, and we pray in the Spirit, and we trust God and what he says. Yet, again, we have to be sensitized to the Spirit’s voice, which we can’t be if we are filling our minds daily with the world’s junk. We won’t know when we are being led astray and deceived if we have our minds set on what the world thinks rather than on what God thinks. Daily we put on the belt of truth. This is not anybody’s truth. This is the truth of God found in his holy Word. We can’t put it on if all we do is read it and then walk away and forget what we look like. Putting it on means applying it to our lives. We have to live the truth. That is how we put it on. We have to walk in it, and teach it, and it has to become our passion. Then, we will recognize and discern the lies. We will see the subliminal messages and the subtleties of deception. They will jump right out at us, while others may not see them at all, because they are not sensitized to the truth, because they don’t walk in it. The same thing is true for all the pieces of our spiritual armor. We put on righteousness by applying Christ’s righteousness to our daily lives, and by walking in his holiness and righteousness in the power and working of the Spirit within us. We can’t do this in our own power and strength, though. Our flesh is subject to weakness. When our enemy attacks us with his darts and swords, we take up the Word of God and we refute his lies and accusations, and we apply God’s word to our lives by doing what it says; not by being hearers only, but by being doers of the word. If we want to be wise, we need to apply (put on) the knowledge God gives us through daily practice in our lives. And, when Satan tries to get us to doubt God’s promises to us, or to cave in and give up just because things have not yet progressed the way we had hoped, or with the speed we had hoped, we have to put on the truth that no obstacle Satan would put in our way can thwart God’s plans and purposes. He will do all that he said he will do. He will complete the work he has begun. So, trust him. Not By Might / An Original Work / March 29, 2012 Based off Zechariah 4 “Not by might, and not by power, But by My Spirit,” says our Lord, God. “Mighty mountain, O what are you? Before Christ you will become level ground.” The hands of our Lord, Savior God, Formed the foundation of His church. He alone will complete the work He began in His servants’ hearts and minds. Who despises small beginnings? Much can be done in Christ’s strength within. Be of courage, and trust your Lord. All sufficient He is for all your needs. Opposition and apathy: Holy Spirit will set us free! We can be overcomers in our faith In our Lord, and our Savior, King. Don’t be troubled by God’s timing. He has ev’rything in His command. Hasten to obey His commands fully, Trusting Him to work all for good. Not by might nor by human strength, But by God’s power; strength within; My dependency now on His working His will in me in righteousness.