Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 1- Ready for Battle

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
Eph. 6:10-20

We are at war. I’m not talking about Afghanistan or Iraq. I’m talking about a war that has been fought since the Garden of Eden. Our enemy is strong. He is like a roaring lion. He is a deceiver and he is the father of lies. He is an accuser and his name, Satan, means “opponent, the arch enemy of good” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). He is a schemer and his main objective is to destroy your life (Eph. 6:11, John 10:10).

Paul was very aware of this conflict. Many times we fail to see just how serious the battle is, but Paul didn’t. In his words to the Ephesians he reminded them of the reality and the severity of this battle:
- We fight against the rulers, the powers against the world forces of this darkness and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places (Eph. 6:12)
- The days are evil (Eph. 6:13)
- Our enemy is constantly shooting flaming arrows at our lives (Eph. 6:16)
- Imprisonment and torture might happen in our lives for the cause of Christ (Eph. 6:20)

Whoever said the Christian life is a bed of roses either 1) wasn’t a Christian or 2) doesn’t know what a rose is. Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). While living your life for Christ it’s not a matter of if we will suffer or if we will fight spiritual battles. They will come. The real question is whether or not we will win those battles- because I believe we can.
Although our enemy is strong, he is already defeated. He is no match for God. Therefore we are told to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10). You’re not supposed to fight any spiritual battles on your own. You’re supposed to fight to win. If you fight in your own strength, your flesh will fail you. So many Christians fight spiritual battles behind walls made of toothpicks wearing a T-shirt, flip flops and a baseball cap, holding a pillow and wielding a wooden spoon while the enemy comes over the horizon in an Apache helicopter armed with 30mm automatic Boeing M320 chain guns firing 625 rounds a minute and AGM-114D Longbow Hellfire (that’s the real name) air-to-surface missiles.

Paul said we must get ready for the battle- “Put on the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:11). It’s God’s armor and we’re to put it all on- not just parts- if we’re going to be able to stand against our enemy:
- Belt of truth (Eph. 6:14)
- Breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14)
- Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15)
- Shield of faith (Eph. 6:16)
- Helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17)
- Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17)

But that’s not the whole armor of God. There’s one more weapon in the arsenal. It’s not as glamorous as other weapons. Perhaps that’s why we don’t use it. The sunlight doesn’t gleam off this weapon like it might the blade of a sword. This weapon doesn’t have a great military style coat of arms on the front of it like you might find on a shield. You can’t stick your chest out and deflect bullets with this weapon like you might be able to with a breastplate.

If you use this weapon it’s almost like sending the signal “Broken Arrow.” The term “Broken Arrow” is used by our nation’s military to call in an airstrike or artillery strike very near a friendly position which has been overrun by the enemy. To use this weapon means that you simply stand in your armor and let someone else do the fighting for you. Using this weapon means you have acknowledged your lack of strength to fight the battle. However, this weapon cinches the belt of truth up tighter, fortifies your breastplate, makes your feet swift with the gospel, enlrages your shield of faith, is a chin strap for the helmet of salvation and forges a stronger blade for the sword of the Spirit. The weapon is prayer.

I know, it’s not as glamorous- but it is powerful. If you read Paul’s words in this passage you’ll notice that each weapon gets a part of one verse or one verse. Prayer gets 3 verses. “Kagawa, the famous Japanese Christian, once said to a conference of ministers on the west coast of the United States, ‘Your greatest lack is that you do not know how to pray.’ Many were incensed by the accusation, but as they continued to listen to the great man, they came to the unanimous conclusion that he was right” (Selwen Hughes, Prayer the Greatest Power, p. 9).

Great movements in the history of Christianity had two common factors: the word of God and prayer. In the armor of God, these are our offensive weapons. Breastplates, belts, helmets, shoes and shields are great- but we are not called to merely stand the assault. We are called to make a dent in the kingdom of evil ruled by Satan. Paul prayed for that- “And [pray] for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:19-20).

Prayer is the weapon of choice. If we are going to make the gospel known, if we are going to make disciples, if we are going to make a dent in the enemy’s army, we must begin to pray.
I am issuing a call to prayer for the members of Berean Baptist Church. For the next forty days I am inviting you to fight. I am inviting you to join me on your knees in prayer. Our enemy is against us, but God is for us. And if He is for us, who can be against us?

Day One Prayer Emphasis: Lord, make us ready for the battle. Give us your strength and power to fight against our enemy.