Thursday, April 22, 2021

Have You Polished Your Armor Lately?

I know that I am taking a departure from the "Love Letters" that I have been writing, but this week, as I have been reading the Word, I was reminded that God has given us every tool we need to fight against the "powers of darkness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6)." 

Take Gideon (Judges 6-7), God called him a mighty man of valor and told him that he would defeat the Midianites and the other nations round about them that had been besieging them for years. Gideon called for men fron the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulon, and Naphtali to come stand with him to fight their invaders. Thirty-two thousand men came.  But God said there were too many for them to know that He had given them the victory. So Gideon told all who were fearful, or anxious to go home. Twenty-two thousand left, but God Still said there were too many. So He had them all go to the stream that they were camped near and told Gideon to watch how they drank from the stream. If they brought their hands to their mouths, being watchful of their surroundings,  they were His chosen warriors.

 There were 300 who drank as God had chosen, so He told Gideon to send the rest home; and he did. But then he thought maybe God had it wrong ... that he didn't have enough men, or experience,  or the right tools. Whatever his doubts were, he had them in spades.

But God had instilled fear in the hearts of the Midianite army and He wanted Gideon to know it. So He sent Gideon down to the edge of the opposing army to listen as they spoke of their dreams.  God showed Gideon their fear and told him how his army of 300 men would win the battle in His power and might. Now Israel knows that God had fought for them. 

Let's take look at Moses (Exodus 4), he doubted that he was the man God needed to send to lead Israel out of Egypt. But God told him to look at what he held in his hand. God transformed the staff of an ordinary shepherd into a tool of wonderous, heavenly signs. 

God gave each of these men, and every other man of God throughout the Bible, exactly the tools and encouragement they needed to accomplish what He had called them to do ... and He does the same for us, too.

For us, God has gifted us His armor as our protective, offensive and defensive,  weapons (Ephesians 6:10-20).  Let's read this passage in the Complete Jewish Bible;

"Finally, grow powerful in union with the Lord, in union with His mighty strength! Use all the armor and weaponry that God provides, so that you will be able to stand against the deceptive tactics of the Adversary.  For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. So take up every piece of war equipment God provides; so that when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist; and when the battle is won, you will still be standing.
"Therefore, stand! Having the belt of truth buckled around your waist, put righteousness for a breastplate, and wear on your feet the readiness that comes from. The Good News of shalom. Always carry the shield of trust, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. And take the helmet of deliverance; along with the sword given by the Spirit, that is the (spoken) Word of God; as you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently,  for all of God's people.

"And pray for me, too, that whenever I open my mouth, the words will be given to me to be bold in making known the secret of the God's News, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may speak boldly, the way I should.

The apostle Paul told us that God has given us every weapon that we would need to stand against the devil and take from him what he has stolen from us ... our Heavenly Armor. When we are instructed to do so, we put our armor on. And we are never told to take it off. But have you polished your armor lately???

When we look at armies down through the ages, we see that every soldier keeps his weapons and protective gear in good repair. And yet, I don't think I have ever thought, even once, that I should be keeping my Heavenly Armor clean, polished and in good working order. God showed me this when He asked me this morning, "Have you polished your armor lately?" I had to truthfully answer, "no."

So, how do we polish our Heavenly Armor ... how do we keep it in good repair? 

What came to my mind are the following ways to "polish" our armor:

    Belt of truth -Look at the picture of the belt that Roman soldiers wore. See how they added the protective covering to their private parts? In most ancient cultures children were not just the outcome of a marital union, they were a sign that their gods had blessed them, so they protected that which was important to their survival. God wants us to surround ourselves with His truth, like a belt around our waist. He desires that there be no deception in or around us. When we practice being truthful in all things and avoiding deception in all we do and say, we are polishing our Belt of Truth. Not only that, but we, as is children, are His most important heritage, just as children were in ancient times.

    Breastplate of Righteousness - Righteousness is being in right standing or relationship with God. Having His righteousness as our breastplate, covering and protecting our heart, means that we are totally focused on living our lives sold out for Jesus and dwelling under the shadow of His wings, as Psalm 91 states;
"When you abide under the shadow of El Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most High. He's the hope that holds me and the stronghold to shelter me, the only God for me, and my great confidence. He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy, and He will protect you from every false accusation and deadly curse. His massive arms are wrapped around you,, protecting you. You can run under His covering of majesty and hide. His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm. Psalm 91:1-4. So living IS keeping His righteousness clean and polished.

    Readiness of the Gospel of His Shalom - although the KJV says peace, but the Hebrew word Shalom has more depth to it than what we give to the word peace.  Shalom means nothing missing, to that is added the authority that abolishes all chaos ... all destruction. So having our feet covered in His perfect Shalom prepares us to walk out prepared for the work He has called us to do. That said, keeping our shoes of His Shalom polished and in good repair is to keep His instruction and walk in His ways. Leviticus 26:3-6 Amplified Bible, says, 
"If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments and (obediently) do them, then I will give you rain in its season, and the land will yield her produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. And your threshing season will last until the grape gathering and the grape gathering (time) will last u til planting, and you will eat your bread and be filled and live securely in your land. I will also grant peace (Shalom) in the land, and no sword will pass through your land."

    Shield of trust (faith) - Ultimately, faith in God is Trusting Him with our lives. If we trusted Jesus enough to ask for His salvation,  shouldn't we trust Him to shield us from all of the enemy's attacks? To keep us safe and alive? So how do we keep our trust in Him "bullet proof?" Romans 10:17, Amplified Bible, says;
"So faith (trust) comes by hearing [what is told], and what is hears comes by the [preaching of the] message concerning Christ."
The more we hear spoken of Jesus, the more our faith - our trust in Him - grows. So keeping our trust strong requires that we sit at the feet of a teacher who speaks God's Word  ... who preaches accurately of Jesus our Savior and all that He did and said. 
Helmet of Salvation - I love this imagery, our salvation covers our head - our ears, minds,  eyes, etc.- this tells me that God wants to guard our thoughts, what we see and what we hear with His love care for us, sealed with the blood of His salvation. So how do we shine up our helmets? How do we knock out the dents from Satan's attacks We? We give Him thanks and praise for what He accomplished on the cross with His shed blood ... continuously. Our praise, adoration and thanksgiving let the Lord know what we think of Him and strengthen our helmets.

    The Sword of the Spirit - This is the Rehma, the spoken Word of God. Remember when we looked at the Shield of Trust (Faith)? We learned that trust is built by hearing God's Word.  So of we speak His Word into situations, then we are also hearing His Word. Thus building up our trust and also shining up our swords. 

    All Prayer for God's people  - Prayer is the tie that binds all of our armor in place and together. Praying constantly covers us with His grace and protection, giving us Holy Boldness. Continuously praying is how we keep this weapon sharp and in good repair. 

So, now that we have looked at proper care for our God given armor, if we do these things we will be better prepared to stand our ground - and take back ground from - the forces of evil who are working to destroy this world.

Did you notice that there is no piece of armor that covers your back? This is because He has designed it so that another brother or sister stands back to back with you in the fight.  Literally having your back!

Did you also notice that most of our armor is defensive in nature? Only His spoken Word and Prayer are offensive weapons. And prayer works both offensively and defensively.  

So polish up your armor and stand strong ... fighting in the power of His Might!

Until next time, 

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