Friday, 30 August 2013

Hold the line God, I'm busy

Sorry, the title was intentionally provocative! But it got your attention, right?!

My Good Morning Girls bible study notes this morning were based on Ephesians 6, the part about putting on the whole armour of God.

First off, why would a christian need armour at all? And what kind of armour is the bible talking about? Everything visible and tangible in the world has the potential to detract from the reality of God for the believer. That's not because everything is evil, but because our hearts are so easily captivated by everything but the beauty of God, and that's because there's a spiritual war going on, and the 'prince of the air' is very real and very active. (This term refers to satan and a host of evil that accompanies him.) Though he has been totally defeated at the cross, his dominion of the world continues until the day when Jesus returns. We have nothing to fear from satan (he's been defeated) but only if our trust is fully in God and we are awake to God!

Anyway, this is the background to why we're talking about armour here. It's not because we're going fencing.

The passage says:
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 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, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ephesians is a letter written by the apostle Paul, inspired by God the Holy Spirit. Paul is pleading here with us to be awake and ready to defend ourselves by constant prayer. Not to depend on our own resources but to allow God's mighty hand to be our strength. What Paul encourages us to do echoes God's own actions described in Isaiah 59 verses 16 and 17, in a world where justice and defending the weak was absent and darkness and evil prevailed:
He saw that there was no man,
    and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
    and his righteousness upheld him.
 He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
    and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
    and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
We must be constant in prayer in order to keep going as a christian. In order to stay laser-focused on eternity with God as King. But so often my day-to-day habits are not about constant prayer but about finding my own solutions to problems, worrying myself sick about the future, feeling despondent about the many people around me who suffer in the stench of this broken world, and I'm looking not to God but myself for the answers. Prayer is beautiful because it lifts the heart and all the heaviness within to the Lord God, who cares about everything. He is the only one who can win the war with evil and rescue us by his word. Dressing in this armour is about the daily habit of getting on belief, prayer, reading his word, allowing the Holy Spirit to move us, telling the gospel of grace to others.

I love this song and video, from a band called Phatfish. This reminds us that God has won the spiritual battle and to find our security in Christ. We get fed all sorts of nonsense about our identity in this dark world, but regularly feeding ourselves with the truth of Gods word changes who we think we are, and if we're God's dearly beloved, and we know it, then are we going to continue to ask God to hold the line?! I don't think so!

God is our strength. Let him be our defender. Put on the armour. Pray!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Too cool to be a gospel fool?

This summer I've been enjoying reading Jennie Allen's book 'Anything' along with some bible study notes provided FREE on the net by the wonderful bloggers at and as I started late, I'm still enjoying it when most have probably finished it, due to a busy summer finishing my post-grad course. Phew! I'm enjoying week 7 and it's pretty memory verse as seen here:

Today my husband and I were reading this passage from 1 Corinthians 1:

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[b] to save those who believe. 

This passage indicated to us there are two stark ways ways of living with the cross. Either we unabashedly strive for Jesus in our conversations and tell others the gospel truth which God will use to save them and give them eternal life (!) ; in doing so we may find others think we are ridiculous. Or on the other hand we play it cool, blend in with the crowd and give Jesus a cool side-sweep as we play down the amazing gift of eternal joy it is to follow him and how it means giving up our life and everything as we know it, laying it down and getting far more pleasure than we ever imagined. 

I'm so so guilty of the latter. 
And after all that the cross has achieved in bringing about payment for my sin, showing the depths of love God has for his broken people and allowing me into God's majestic presence. (Actually I need to meditate some more on what the cross is! There's so much!) 
Why am I so shame-faced and shy of speaking of this act of love, of the instrument of torture (roman cross) you gladly endured in humility for the world that rejected you, Jesus? ('Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers') The reason is, I know it's folly; it sounds weak, not strong; crazy or barbaric, not humane; like a failed attempt, rather than a triumph; like a pitiful silence, rather than a happy party; like gravity, rather than frivolity.

Please would my everyday conversation start to matter. Please would weakness be my way?
Please God, would you help us to trust you? The gospel is amazing and it has saved even me: I can rejoice in the words you said seen in the book of Isaiah: 'my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.'  Isaiah 55 v 11
To help us I have some questions. I want to spend more time mediating on this truth - I don't do enough meditating, letting my mind absorb the amazing depths of scripture! 
Stay blessed beloved ones!
Questions for me and you:
  • Do I daily meditate on the fullness of life in Christ?
  • Do I want to be popular with the crowd and blend in more than I want to be obedient to Jesus and do what is hard for me (when I like to be liked)?
  • Am I convinced that it's God's power that saves others (and me and mine) through a message the world scoffs at? Or am I trying hard to make the whole think more palatable to those around me?
  • Is my faith like some embarrassing scar that I try my best to ignore, or is it the best message of hope to those hungry for God?