Message Recap: Greater Purpose, Pt. 3

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This week, we had the incredible opportunity from Hope Frankian. Thank you, Hope, for sharing with us your wisdom and understanding of our greater purpose as children of God!

Matthew 1:1-17 is a long list of names, easy to overlook in our busyness, but it is actually so pertinent to our growth and greater understanding of our purposes. This week, we are looking particularly at Ruth’s character, one of the few women listed in Jesus’ genealogy. Ruth is included in this very exclusive list because of the way she endured her test, and the way she maintained her faithfulness despite hardship.

Ruth 1: 11-14: In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

While Orpah leaves, Ruth clings. This is the first part of her test; she chooses to stay out of love and loyalty.

Ruth 1:19-22: So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Ruth remains loyal to her mother-in-law despite Naomi’s bitterness as an act of obedience and of faithfulness. It’s her standing and her steadfastness that leads her into the family – the lineage – of Jesus. So often, as soon as things get hard, we look for the quickest way out. If something looks unfavorable, we hesitate to stay faithful.

Later in the story, Boaz takes Ruth as his wife; her finds her favorable and desirable because of her steadfast faithfulness, not despite her circumstance. In her testing, Ruth didn’t try to run away. Rather, she joyfully pressed in.

James 1:1-4: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Our trials produce steadfastness, and steadfastness completes us in fullness and perfection.

James 1:12: Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

When does the crown come? When he has stood the test. This reward comes from our enduring, our standing. So often, we miss out on the reward because we give up and try to make a way for ourselves. As soon as the test get hard, we look for the nearest escape route. The struggle in the test, however, puts her in the right place to receive God’s blessing. Without the struggle of the test, we wouldn’t appreciate the blessing.

Biblical references: Matthew 1:1-17; Ruth 1:1-22; James 1:1-4; James 1:12

Questions:

  1. What trials and  struggles are currently in?
  2. Where are the places God is calling you to be faithful and stand?
  3. What great purpose does God want to bring through your standing?

 

Sermon Recap: Thanksgiving

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This Sunday, we had the incredible opportunity of hearing from Renae Burford about thankfulness (which, as she reveals, is not only a commandment of God’s, but is also immunity-boosting. Praise!).

Firstly, let’s check out the physiological benefits of thankfulness (according to science): it boosts immunity, decreases aches and pains, produces greater interest in exercise, improves sleep and you feel more refreshed upon waking, improves alertness, increases joy, pleasure, optimism and happiness, helps with quicker recovery from stress and depressive episodes, increases capacity to help others, and decreases a sense of loneliness. Not only is thankfulness pleasing to the Lord, but it is actually really good for us.

Thankfulness, by definition is: “awareness of benefits received from an external source; expressive of thanks”. There are 98 times thankfulness is mentioned in scripture, but we are going to look specifically at 5 of them.

Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When we pray with thanksgiving in our hearts, that is the key to receiving the peace of God that guards our hearts and minds.

Additionally, thanksgiving gives us clarity when determining God’s will. 1 Thessalonians 3:16-18 states: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We are to rejoice, pray, and give thanks at all times, according to the Bible. Friends, we must remember thankfulness is not a tool of denial; the Bible does not guarantee we won’t face suffering in life. What is does promise, however, is God’s goodness in every circumstance (even painful ones).

Thankfulness gives us an alert mind in the midst of confusion. Colossians 4:2: “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Scripture also gives us warning when we do not give thanks, as seen in Romans 1:21: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Our minds are sharpened by thankfulness, and they are made dull by lack of thanksgiving.

Thankfulness gives us confidence when we are in need. David declares his confidence in Psalm 118:17: “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”

Thankfulness is an alternative to temptation. Ephesians 5:3-4: “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper saints. Let there be no filthiness or foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Let your mind be so full of thanks that all the things that bring death and destruction are displaced.

According to a psychologist, “if I want more gratitude, I’ve got to be willing to actually participate in a change process by which I allow my brain to be aware of what it is grateful for.” Let there be thanksgiving; let it be. Allow yourself to be thankful. It begins by being aware of all that you have actually received. Your participation is key, not your circumstance. Thankfulness is such a powerful gift from God for us.

In order to become a more thankful person, we must be aware of its competitors: materialism (which says, “if I have this, its because I earned it”) and entitlement (which says, “because I exist, God owes me this”). Entitlement and materialism kill thankfulness because they cut it off at its beginning. Remember, thankfulness is “the awareness of the benefit received by an external source, or an expression of thanks”. God does not owe us anything, and certainly not just because we exist. Materialism and entitlement are so engrained in us as a society because we are a prideful people, and it is a rarity to admit our dependency on another. We want to be independent. To be thankful means you can acknowledge that you received something that you didn’t deserve, and awe is the right response to such great generosity. Jesus’ death on the cross is the most awesome gift we could ever receive, and to accept it is awesome because we must acknowledge that we don’t deserve such a gift. We are not entitled to God’s pursuit; his love is generous. We cannot earn it, but what we can do is be in awe of his generosity.

When we assume the kindness of God should just be ours because of our existence, we become more susceptible to sin, apathy, and anger toward him. It is your awe that will lead you to love God well, and your loving God well will lead you to joy in obedience (and receive the best that he has for us). Let us allow God’s generosity to lead us into awe of him, and be thankful for all that he has done.

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! See you on Sunday for the beginning of a new series. 

Psalms and Proverbs

A photo by freestocks.org. unsplash.com/photos/EssPg6x5QeY

This week, we had the incredible honor of hearing from Renae Burford, speaking about the condition of our heart and how to keep it carefully. Specifically, we dove into Proverbs 4.

Throughout this series – Psalms and Proverbs – we have been reminded of this truth: however our current situation looks, and however it turns out, God is who He says He is.

Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” 

Friends, we are made to make it for the long haul. God did not create us for a sprint of faithfulness, but a marathon of faithfulness. To make it to the end as loving, believing people, we must guard and watch over our inner persons.

The determining factor of the life you experience has everything to do with your heart, and the truth that flows from it. The world tells us that what we produce is a correlation with our circumstances. In truth, your circumstances have nothing to do with your productivity or our sense of fulfillment; rather, your productivity and how you enjoy it is directly related to the condition of your heart. Because of this, we have to keep our hearts, and guard them because they are so precious.

Luke 6:45: The good person our of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaks.” 

When we talk about the heart, it can feel abstract. So, practically, what do we need to do?Thankfully, the Bible provides guardrails that are as relevant today as they ever were:

Proverbs 4:20-22: “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” 

John 15:7-8: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” 

Ephesians 3:17: “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love…” . Jesus is the Word of God, made flesh.

Romans 10:10: “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confessed and is saved.” 

A heart of good condition comes from knowing the Word of God. To know the Word is to have a holy fear of God, and those who fear the Lord lack no good thing.

Returning to Proverbs 4:23, we look at our verse of interest: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  Vigilance, defined, is the careful state of keeping careful watch over potential dangers.

There is danger around us that has so many faces, but it is rooted most deeply in unbelief of the heart.  A lot of us hold on to unbeliefs and the world reiterates those and perpetuates them as being factual. Eventually, the unbelief crowds out the belief; we become bitter, distracted, frustrated, and resentful. But, the longer we live and choose to take care of our hearts, the more we produce and the more we enjoy doing it.

Where is it that we fail most in taking care of our hearts?

  1. We procrastinate.
  2. We spend time perfecting our facades than we do getting to the root of our unbelief.
  3. We do the work. And, the more we work, the easier it becomes. Know the Word of God, because those places of unbelief will be more readily identifiable.

What are your deeply rooted unbeliefs? Where can you ask God for help in your unbelief? How do you remove unbelief? Believe! Ask God to increase your belief, for apart from Him, we can do nothing.

The way to experience and enjoy producing fruit with Jesus for the entirety of your life is to own your own heart. Invite Jesus in and let him take hold, and not any one else or any other circumstance. The very mission of Jesus was and is your heart. Keep it carefully, because you are worth it, and he wants you to experience abundant life through belief.

A photo by Aidan Meyer. unsplash.com/photos/lkSwboL_rDM

Join us on Sunday to hear the first of our next series! 

Sermon Recap: Relational Resolves, Pt. 3

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Thus far, we have taken a look at two relational resolves, by which we as members of the church choose to relate with others: Honor and Healthy Conflict. Today, we break down Relational Warmth, and how to apply it practically and lovingly in our lives.

Our third relational resolve encourages us to decide in advance that we are going to be warm to others. Specifically, this looks like enthusiasm, affection, and kindness in engaging every person we encounter. God’s kindness is abundantly toward you. It is unchanging. It is mighty and ferocious and huge, and therefore we are called to love and warmly engage others greatly as His children.

He loves to meet our disappointment with His kindness, and He loves to meet our failure with His kindness. For you, specifically and intimately, His arms are wide open, and He desires to overwhelm you with kindness.

Luke 15:1-6 tells the Parable of the Lost Sheep, a depiction of the kindness of Jesus: “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ Then Jesus told them this parable: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” 

His affections are toward you. It is out of His abundant kindness that we are encouraged to be warm to all others.

Colossians 3:12-15: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32.

1 Peter 3:8 furthers yet the importance of biblical warmth, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble”. 

As believers, we are being carried through the process of sanctification, to look more like Jesus every day. To have the process of sanctification working in us means that we have the power and authority to love others outlandishly. Being warm with other people  is the calling on our loves by the will of God. Being relationally warm is more than a suggestion; to have a calling by God over our lives is grand beyond measure! We put on the clothing of relational warmth because we have first received it immensely from Jesus.

We live in Seattle (though this notion of coldness toward others certainly is not limited to Seattle alone), where indifference tends to characterize relationship. When did being cold become trendy? When did being “nice” become synonymous with being “boring”? This isn’t true at all! Being nice doesn’t mean we are boring; rather, it means we are clothed in the Spirit, representing kindness and affection and enthusiasm toward everyone. We, as people of God, reject the idea that the Seattle Freeze is the norm, and instead hold ourselves to a standard of heavenly norm.

As with our other relational resolves, there are 4 Practicals for Relational Warmth:

  1. Acknowledge people
  2. Use eye contact
  3. Use physical contact
  4. Practice inclusion

We haven’t done anything to earn God’s warmth toward us. Therefore, we are open and welcoming to others in return, because it is a gift that has already been given to us. We choose to put on relational warmth because of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are His chosen ones, holy and beloved, called to live as Jesus lives.

Galatians 5:22-23 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” 

We are called to aggressively, purposefully, intentionally love others, because this is exactly how we are loved by Him.

Need to do some catching up? Check out our sermon recaps about honor and healthy conflict on the blog!  

 

Sermon Recap: Relational Resolves, Pt. 2

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In this sermon, lead pastor Andrew Bach discusses a challenging, but important and biblical relational resolve.

As a church, we – Mosaic – landed on 5 relational resolves to help us become the body of Christ as Jesus calls us to be. These Relational Resolves have principally guided how we relate with people, and they have helped tremendously to set our culture as church.  However, these are more than just points of discussion for aspiration; we live them, constantly looking to Jesus for strength and wisdom to do so.  Every so often, we need to review these, and decide again that this is indeed how we will relate with others.  In the first sermon, we discussed honor. Today, we discuss healthy conflict, a biblical calling for us as His people.

This discussion, though perhaps less sweet than others, is important, because there are ways that God intends for us to engage each other in healthy conflict and ways that God does not. If a part of Mosaic’s culture is healthy conflict, then we have a chance at long term relationships.  However, unhealthy conflict is a quick way to division and broken relationships.

As a people that love Jesus, we have to make a resolve.  We will have healthy conflict.

The Bible speaks about this in detail, because God knows that people have varying perspectives, and therefore have conflict. His intention for us is conflict characterized by grace and patience, in order for relationships to grow and exemplify Him.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16.

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. [13] 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. Ephesians 6:12-13 ESV.

Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him. Luke 17:3-4 ESV.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. Ephesians 4:26 ESV.

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:5-6 ESV.

We know the Bible has a lot to say about healthy conflict. Here, Andrew provides principles for us to understand how to practice what we preach.

  1.  The goal of healthy conflict is Authentic Unity.
    1. Specifically, this means that we don’t just pretend to ignore the differences we encounter. Instead, we work through them, together, to the glory of God.
    2. The goal is more about being unified than it is about you being right. Body of Christ: we must work together to accomplish the purposes and plans of God. It’s not about you proving your right. Rather, it matters that we stay together.
  1.  The person is not the problem.
    1. Our battle is never against people. Ultimately, your problem is not with this person.
  1.  Truth must be spoken in love. 
    1. We cannot be afraid of conflict. We have the hard conversations, from a place of desiring unity, and we trust and hope that conflict will always lead to the best possible outcome in the end.  Therefore, we don’t shy away from speaking the truth.
    2. Seek to understand rather than to be understood. To speak in love, recognize how you communicate through tones, facial expressions, and word choice.
    3. Assumptions matter. Ask questions. Actively listen.
    4. Understand what heavenly Love is, exemplified by Jesus. Love is not flattery, and love is not making sure people feel good. This is hard, but to make others feel good is the easy way out. Understand that healthy conflict is loving, and discipline the delivery.
  1.  Forgiveness is a matter of the heart, and forgiveness has no limit.
    1. We are commanded to forgive.  This is one of the most powerful aspects of our relationship with Jesus.

Practice Healthy Conflict, for the goodness of God and His people.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17 ESV.

In healthy conflict, we follow the process found in Matthew 18:

  1. Approach the person alone
  2. Approach the person in a small group
  3. Approach church leadership

All 3 steps are taken with these 2 important truths in mind:

  1. The church is a unified body
  2. Forgiveness has no limit

Just as Jesus forgave, we must follow suit and forgive others as well – with love and authenticity.

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Check back soon for more Relational Resolve series recaps! 

 

Sermon Recap: Easter Sunday

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“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” 1 Corinthians 9:26.  

As believers of Jesus, we are called also to believe in the incredible, intentional purpose of our earthly lives. Like athletes running a race of endurance, or fighting with agility and precision, we the church– the hands and feet of Jesus – are called to live purposefully. We are called to have faith in the person of Jesus, and to celebrate purposefully.

Therefore, because we have faith in the perfect person of Jesus Christ, we celebrate Easter by faith also. Interestingly, we put our faith in so many worldly things that are far less trustworthy than is Jesus. With steadfast expectation, we have faith that our car will start in the morning as we head out to work, that our airplane will land safely, that the medicine we purchase from the pharmacy will ease our symptoms of illness. But, as Christians, we are not to put our faith in the matters of the world; rather, we must decide for ourselves what is true. We must choose to put our faith in the Word, which God Himself breathed even before the beginning of time. His Word is the ultimate, incorruptible Truth.

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe’.” John 20:24-25. 

We celebrate Easter because it is the the resurrection of Jesus. Further, it was the turning point of Christianity. Over 500 people saw – with their own eyes – the resurrection of the man of Jesus. We are called to believe in the things unseen, but what an incredible, tangible sight to behold by human eyes!

John 20 continues in verses 26-27, “A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

In this passage, the incomprehensible, unsearchable compassion and understanding of Jesus is exemplified, as he meets Thomas right in the midst of his unbelief. What is even more beautiful and outlandish is that this is the heart of Jesus for every person on earth; His heart seeks to find us, and to instill belief wherever there is unbelief. He is not discouraged by our unbelief, but instead, draws us nearer to Him to show us His goodness.

“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’.” John 20:28-29.  

We celebrate Easter as a grand invitation to put our trust in the One we cannot see, “so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”. 2 Corinthians 4:18.

This specific Holiday reminds us both to celebrate and of the ways in which we are blessed by God:

  1. We are saved. Romans 10:9 promises: “If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
  2. We have life and life abundant in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:11 reminds us “if the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you”.

We celebrate Easter to praise the person of Jesus, to declare our belief in the Resurrection, and to acknowledge our faith in the unseen, that which is everlasting. We are invited to celebrate, as even the angels are in awe of our faith! Hebrews 11:1 further describes this faith which even stuns the angels: “Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”. Though we face fleeting matters of the world, God is good and he is eternally good. In Him through Christ Jesus we are free, and that is the very reason for celebration.

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Check back soon for more photos from our very own Easter Sunday celebration (spoiler alert: it may have involved BBQ). 

Sermon Recap: Ephesians 6

The book of Ephesians has directed our several week-long series at Mosaic titled Present Battle: Eternal Victory. Last Sunday, Carrie Bach closed the series with a beautifully vulnerable sermon emphasizing Ephesians 6.

We are in a present battle that has an eternal victory. Therefore, it is vital that our identity is deeply rooted in Jesus and in Him alone. Our strength lies in the Lord and not in our own might, for apart from Him, we can do nothing.

“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.” Ephesians 6:10-12.

God has called us to put on our armor. Our society encourages us to fight for ourselves (as seen often in asking for a pay raise at work, for example), but this is not what God intends for us. He doesn’t call us to charge or to fight, but rather, to stand and to know His strength. In that, there is power.

“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 on your feet, having put on the readiness by the 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…”. Ephesians 6:13-18.

In the first part of Ephesians 6, God asks us to do these three things: Stand. Withstand. Stand firm.

As God’s people, we are made to stand. It’s part of our identity. It is who God has made us to be. Of course, this begs the question: how do we stand? In what ways, specifically, can we do what God is asking us to do and walk out in this identity? In this chapter, Paul provides handrails to the Ephesians. Thankfully, we can take his encouragement for these people as encouragement for ourselves, as the Word is living and relevant today as it was 2000 years ago.

  1. Fasten on the belt of truth
    1. It is not relative. My situation does not define His Truth.
    2. I do not examine the Bible, the Bible examines me.
  2. Put on the breastplate of righteousness.
    1. We live under the grace of God – it is the love of God – which prompts us and encourages us to live glory to glory. His call to righteousness is not so much a chore as it is an honor to represent Him
    2. The love of God transforms us into His image
    3. Righteousness is not religious; God’s righteousness is not a license to sin.
  3. Put shoes on your feet with a readiness of the gospel of peace. The gospel is powerful to advance His Kingdom. The gospel is greater than words on a page; it transforms.
  4. Take up the shield of faith. God does not call us to live by what is seen but to live by what is unseen. What lives in the eternal is the most real, despite our tangible worldly reality
  5. Take the helmet of salvation. Romans 8:6: “The mind governed by flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” The helmet guards us from the lies of the enemy. He stalks like a lion, but his roar is his greatest asset. There is nothing more he can do than to roar, as his force is weak.
  6. Take the sword of the spirit – the Word. This is our greatest defense in the battle against the enemy, because The Word is Truth.
  7. Pray
    1. Prayer is powerful and effective. Prayer brings about the peace of God. Prayer changes nations.
    2. Worrying is not prayer. Complaining is not prayer.

Clothe yourselves in the armor of God. Know that His armor is a gift; to receive it is a gift. However, we must know the word of God in order to use this gift effectively. To be made to stand, you must spend time with Him. With this knowledge, there are things we can do to grow in intimacy with Him, so that we may receive the gift and use it authoritatively:

Check out to check in. Check out of media to check in to the presence of God. Of course, media is not inherently wrong and it is not inherently sin, but to use it as a point of comparison is sinful and it is destructive.

Dress well to test well. Put on your armor, as Paul describes in Ephesians.

Understand that we are not moved by our weakness but remain standing by His strength. God is not surprised by our weakness or our lack. The joy of the Lord is our strength, and in our weakness, He reveals His greatness. God knows we cannot fight the battle alone; in His grace, He doesn’t ask us to do so. The Lord will fight for you; all you must do is stand.

Remember who we are fighting against, and remember the great name of our Victor. Turn your eyes toward the Victor, because the battle is already won. He is winning today and He will win forever.

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