Combat Training with God – Romans 13:11-12

The Day Is Near

11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

 Awake and Alert

Sin is like a blanket that shuts out the light.  It can make us feel tired and feeble, and unaware of its consequences.  We need to awaken from our slumber.  It is not right to sleep during the day, for the day is for working.  In the same way, we need to be aware of the time, so that we will do what we need to do.  Jesus has warned us to be found doing the master’s bidding when He returns:

35 Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

The time has come to make sure that everything is ready for the master’s return.  We shouldn’t be doing things that are unwise, for Jesus’ return is imminent.

42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

Decry Darkness

We were once in darkness, and clothed ourselves with the deeds of darkness.  We spoke the language of darkness, and identified with the darkness.  The light had no place in our lives.  We may not have even liked where we were, but we felt trapped and held in bondage.  If we feel that way now, we need to throw off the deeds of darkness that bind us.

It is unbecoming of God’s people to walk around in darkness.  We are ambassadors to this world, not of this world but in it.  We are the image-bearers of God who have been shown how to properly bear His image and be a light on top of a hill.  We have been given the opportunity to be salt to a bland and tasteless existence without God.  When we walk in darkness, we suppress the truth with wickedness: we deny that God is holy through our very actions and speech.  It is only after we take off the clothing of darkness that we can put on the armor of light.

Amazing Armor

Once we have shaken off the clothing of darkness, we need to put on the armor of light.  Darkness and light don’t mix.  Where light enters into an area, the darkness flees.  That is the power of light – to dispel the darkness.  Light exposes the darkness for what it is, and gives us the ability to see clearly so that we can move intentionally and with purpose toward the direction and goals that become visible to us.  If we forsake the light, we forsake the tool necessary to awaken from slumber and the ability to work.

Let us put on the full armor of God, and when we have done every else, to stand:

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I doing what my master has asked me to do in preparation for His return?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are light and dispel the darkness around us.  Search me, O God, and see if there is any wrongdoing within me.  Cleanse me of my sin, and show me the path to truth and righteousness, that I would bear Your image in a manner worthy of You to all people.  Help me to be a light on a hill.  Strengthen me as I wade through darkness today that I would not be affected by it, and cleanse me when my feet get dirty.  Remember me, O God, that I would honor and glorify Your name in all things at all times.  Forgive me when I fall short, and restore me in Your presence.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Promise of God – Deuteronomy 6:8

When God makes promises, circumstances change.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Not Just for Joshua

The author of Hebrews took to heart that this promise was not just for Joshua, son of Nun, but reiterated it in Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”

A Promise Provided

This promise is fulfilled with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  He is a down-deposit for our inheritance.  He won’t just go away when we sin, or are in need, or feel lonely, or scared, or depressed.  He is ALWAYS there – comforting us, guiding us, leading us, empowering us, and encouraging us in our walk with God.

Light Leads through Love

Ephesians 5:18, showing us that the Holy Spirit leads us, saying:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,

The word “filled” is plErousthe in the Greek.  It means “to be controlled by.”  Just as wine controls us in drunkenness (who can honestly say that they are in their right mind and in control when they are drunk?), we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit in all that we do.  It is an imperative command – not a suggestion!  We are expected to do this!

Since God is love, everything that The Holy Spirit does is in love – even if it is to refine our character and test our hearts through trialseven when we sleep!  We can be confident that when God is leading, we are in good hands.

Provision of Power

God doesn’t just give us an empty promise.  He promises not to forsake us.  To do that, He empowers us through The Holy Spirit:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God provides us with the source of the power of the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He doesn’t just dwell in us; He provides power for all that we are to do.  We can take comfort and strength knowing that He is not just accompanying us through our journey, but providing for us as well.

The Fear Factor

Satan prowls about like a roaring lion, looking for prey to devour.  Lions are not creatures that we should confront without appropriate protection or weaponry.  It is easy to be frightened when confronting a force that can easily overwhelm and destroy you.  Have you noticed that just about every time an angel visits someone in the Bible, the very first words out of their mouth is “do not fear”?  There is a very good reason for that.  When confronted with the power of angelic beings, we are immediately aware of our fragile nature.

But God has provided us with the Spiritual Armor of God.  And we have an offensive weapon as well – the Sword of the Spirit, which IS the scriptures.  And God’s Word says that there is no fear in perfect love.  Since God is love, and we are in Christ, we no longer need to fear.  Fear is predicated on consequences, and ALL of our sins – past, present and future – have been forgiven.  God has chosen not to forsake us, and even in our incapacity to live life perfectly because of our sin nature, God still provides for our future sins, having known about them from before time began.

The Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask the question:  given this wonderful promise, are we allowing the Holy Spirit of God free rein to lead and empower our lives as we walk with God to the extent that we should?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have made us this wonderful promise.  Give me the strength today to let go of those things that interfere in Your guidance of my life.  Rid me of my own evil desires, and place within me the desires of Your heart.  Help me to yield myself to you completely as a living sacrifice.  Remove the dross from my heart, and help me to submit completely to the Holy Spirit.  Father, I recognize that in submission to You there is freedom.  Set me free from myself that I may be free in You.  Bless Your Holy Name, for You give Your children wonderful gifts and promises.  Knowing that I am never alone, and always in Your care comforts me through my trials.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – Ephesians 6:10-13

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Evil people are not our enemy; the devil and his minions are.

We forget that people are not the real enemy because they are the tools of the enemy for the visible manifestations of evil.  We see people do horrific things out of malice, indifference, ignorance, or selfishness.  We get so tied up in dealing with the tools of the enemy that we forget who the enemy really is.

One of the interesting aspects of this is that the enemy has ranks.  Just as in a human army, the demonic army has its authority structure as well (the rulers, the authorities, and the powers of this dark world, as well as the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms).  When the archangel Gabriel was delayed in bringing a response to Daniel, he indicated that it was due to a battle with the prince of the Persian kingdom, and that the archangel Michael came to assist him to overcome the resistance to bring the message.  Gabriel, an angel, could wipe out any human being.  This was a power of our dark world.

Sin blinds us to the spiritual.  But it is recorded in scripture that Balaam’s donkey saw a Christophany (a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ before He took on flesh) and wouldn’t move.  Balaam beat his donkey, and in a very interesting turn of events, God opens the mouth of the donkey to speak (when was the last time you were at the zoo and the animals spoke to you?  The serpent spoke to Adam and Eve…)!  But this isn’t the only time we see that we are blinded to spiritual things.  Elisha asked God to open the eyes of his servant to see what the servant was spiritually blinded to – hills full of horses and chariots of fire.

When we see people do evil things, remember that they are the servants of their father, just as we should be the servants of our Father.  The only difference is that they don’t really have a choice in the matter.  Every person that you see is in one kingdom or another.  God marks His own with a mark – the Holy Spirit.  The devil is a counterfeiter, and marks his own as well.  And every spiritual being in the heavenly realms can see the marks.  But God, in His grace and mercy, seeks them out through His servants.  And when we don’t do our job fighting this spiritual war, He will intervene and reveal Himself.

Gird up with the full Armor of God.  Recognize who you fight this day, soldier of Christ, and, when you have done everything that you can, STAND.  The word stand is interesting as well.  It is intended to give a visual of a Roman soldier placing his shield in front of him, hunkering down behind it, and digging his feet into the ground to bear up under the pressure of an attack.

In light of this, let us now look with our eyes using this lens at those who wrong us, who run us off the road, steal our identities, mug us, rape us, murder us, and perform every other kind of evil against us, as prisoners in a war that they don’t even know is going on around them, let alone know that they are active participants.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have given us spiritual life in You.  You open our eyes to reality in Your Word, and show us Your heart and intentions.  Help us to see this world and all in it as You do.  Remove the spiritual blinders that we have, and open our eyes that we would be better prepared as we are engaged in Battle.  We pray that You will go before us this days, and make our paths straight, and make them known to us, that we may do Your will and Your will alone.  Help us to give grace, mercy, and forgiveness to all who wrong us, as You did and still do to us.  Make known today to us our marching orders, and may our spirits be sensitive to You when You ask us to make corrections.  This we pray in the precious name of Your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Praying to God – Matthew 6:6

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Recently, a film has come out named “War Room.”  In it, a family seeks help from an older, wiser woman – Miss Clara – when things start to fall apart.  Spoiler Alert – if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read the next paragraph.

Miss Clara prayed for someone to pass on the knowledge that God gave to her on how to pray for her life.  God helped Miss Clara to see that she was at war, and helped her to develop a prayer strategy for every area of her life.  One of the strategies was to dedicate a place, a closet in her home, her War Room, where she strategically and faithfully prayed for everything.  This room became her favorite room in the house.  Miss Clara faithfully passed her knowledge on to her protege, Elizabeth Jordan.

In Matthew 5:6-8, Jesus says, “And when you pray” three times.  Anything Jesus repeats is very important, and indicates that we should pay attention.  The intonation is that we are expected to pray.  Not if, but when.  He even gives us an outline of a prayer strategy in the next few verses.

So, let us ask the question:  What area(s) of our life do we NOT have a DAILY prayer strategy?  Do we consider prayer important enough to go to a secluded place (if at all possible) to communicate with our Creator, who provides for all of our needs?  Have you noticed that God didn’t limit prayer in any way?  He didn’t want us to stop communicating with Him for any reason – nothing is out of bounds (check out David’s prayer – Ouch!).  He does say that anything we ask for in the Name of Jesus, or His character – what Jesus would ask for – would be given to us, especially if two or more of us agree on it.  But we are not limited to that.

Let us thank our Creator today for the wonderful opportunity to talk with Him about anything and everything.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You so love us that you have given us access to Your throne room,  What a privilege You have bestowed upon us.  Hear our cries, O Lord; Please do not turn your face from us when we seek you.  Forgive us our sins; help us to allow Your light to shine in every aspect of our lives so that the darkness may be cast out.  I have so many things to bring to You this day, Lord God.  Let my heart be poured out before you like a drink offering, and may the meditations of my heart be upon You and Your Word always.  Guide me that I may write down and address every area of life that, as I gird myself with Your armor, I will be prepared for what you have planned for me this day.  This I ask in the name of the Son of the One True God, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?