THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD

We are admonished in Ephesians 6 to put on the whole armor of God so that we will be able to be victorious over all the wiles of our enemy, the devil.  It is interesting that when God chose to do battle with sinfulness He put on some of the same protective gear that we are to wear.  In other words, God has shared a part of His own wardrobe with us to enable us to be protected, for in Isaiah 59 it speaks of these garments of His when it says He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head.

At first glance it would seem that we are responsible for faithfully wearing every piece of gear that will be needed.  So we’d be responsible for learning truth so it can be effective in our day-to-day life; for living righteously—and who in our own strength can do that 100% of the time  (so in those moments of failure, our armor would be incomplete); how can we wear the gospel of peace?  Does that mean becoming a preacher or evangelist, even if that is not our gifting?  And faith—sometimes we find our faith is strong, and then there are the difficult moments when it seems so weak.  The helmet of salvation seems more clearly defined, because when we trust in the finished work of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, salvation is ours.  Then there’s the Word:  how much time is needed for study of the Word and meditating on it before it becomes an effective part of our gear?  Surely if the donning of the armor depends upon us, we will face the enemy totally unprotected.

And yet we are told to “put it on.”  How do we do that?

First we are to put on “truth”.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the Truth and the life…” John 14:6  So Jesus is the answer;  He is Truth.

Next is the breastplate of righteousness. ” But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness….”  I Cor. 1:30   Again Jesus is the answer;  He is our righteousness.

Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace—“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” I Cor. 15:3,4  That is the gospel in a nutshell.  Jesus is our “gospel of peace,” and He promised,”  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.”  John 14:27

Take the shield of faith.  “By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”  Eph. 2:8…and God’s gifts come to us, the branches, through our Vine, the Lord Jesus Christ.  So the shield of faith becomes Jesus!  In Col. 2:10 we are told that Jesus is the head of all principality and power, making it is easy to see how the shield of faith, which is Jesus, can easily quench all the fiery darts of the enemy.

Wear the helmet of salvation.  “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12  So who becomes the helmet of salvation?  None other than our Jesus.

…and the sword of the Spirit (our only defensive piece of the armor) which is the Word of God…”For the Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword…” Heb. 4:12  “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14  The Holy Spirit, through the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ, takes the written word of God and makes it come alive to us as a defense against the lies and pressures the enemy hurls at us.

So we have our answer for the dilemma of how to successfully put on the whole armor of God:  “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh.”  Romans 13:14

Ephesians 6:10 says  “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

When we put on our Lord Jesus, we have clothed ourselves in the whole armor of God.  Our victory for warfare is provided by Him.  Eph 6:10 says, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.”  When we receive Jesus into our lives as Lord and Savior, He becomes our armor.  So our only responsibility in putting the armor on is the act of receiving Jesus into our lives, then actively living in obedience to His will.

This truth is emphasized in other Scriptures as well::

Col. 3:9 says “For in Him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”  So God is dwelling within Jesus, and when we put on Jesus, we automatically are surrounded by God as well.

Colossians 3:3 says “…your life is hid with Christ in God.”  It is like three circles.  We are the center with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and with us in that area.  We put on Christ and He becomes the second circle.  Then God surrounds it all and what total protection our armor gives!!!  Anything that touches our lives must get to us through all that protection, only as God permits it.

I read of a woman who lived her life with many fears of all the evil things that might happen in her life.  One night she had a dream in which she was encased in a bubble with all those evils surrounding it, but they were helpless to penetrate that bubble.  The only way they could touch her life was if God allowed a small opening to allow one through.  She knew from the dream that nothing evil could touch her life unless it came to her by God’s permission, and for His purposes, and it set her free from fear.

What a blessed armor we have!!  He has provided all we need for the spiritual warfare that we face and for a life of victory.

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Let’s have a bit of levity today.  My son and his wife were missionaries in the jungles of Irian Jaya, Indonesia, and this was supposed to be the dry season, but they’d had heavy rain for about a week.  They wrote that a python had gotten one of the missionaries chickens, so my response to them was “how to catch a python—almost!”

 

“Dear Gulp-Gulp and Blub-Blub (in the dry season),

 

And who knows what your salutation will be in the rainy season! Well, I’ll think of something!

 

Which also reminds me of something else: H O W in the wide world do you go about disposing of a 9-1/2 foot python? I’ve cast about in my mind to give it some thought lest I be caught unawares at some future time when I might meet such a creature face to face. (it would HAVE to be face to face, since Mr. P’s. physical limitations would rule out a hand-to-hand encounter.) Now I’ve come up with several possibilities as a result of my cogitations: the first springs from my vast knowledge of bird lore. Perhaps if you carefully sneak up on Mr.. P. and sprinkle salt on his tail—(on second thought, who in his right mind would want to preserve ANY part of a python? I think I’ll discard that possibility.)

 

But perhaps the second idea has merit. How about the old elephant trap! You know—you dig a hole and carefully cover it over with twigs and leaves, and then when Mr. P. comes slithering blithely along sticking his tongue out at the world in general, he hits the leaf and twig patch and—kerplop!!  Hole in one!  Hey! I really think I’ve got something there! (No, not just a trapped python—A GOOD IDEA!)

 

Later: RATS! Flunked out again! I try to be practical about my ideas, so I have been mentally digging the hole and getting it ready. I got out my calculus textbook (slightly outdated to be sure, when I check the copyright) and figured that if I’m to catch a 9-1/2 footer, I should plan to dig it to a depth of about 10-1/2 feet, lest he hook his tongue over the edge, while standing on his tail (which is, of course, by now rather stiff from all that salt) and hoist himself over the top. Then I figure I should add about another foot for good measure since Mr. P. has grown at least that much since I began this project in the first place—and then I mentally looked up—and there hanging over the rim at the top was Mr. P. sticking his tongue out at ME! Besides that, this is the Irian Jaya “dry season” and I’m about to drown down here! Help! Somebody please throw me a mental rope!.

 

You know, they say “third time’s a charm”, so surely this one will do the trick. Remember reading about setting up a rabbit snare with a supple sapling and a rope noose? Now surely in all that lush jungle over there, you could find a sapling—or at least a first cousin once or twice removed—and a piece of rope couldn’t be too hard to come by. I’ll bet you’d hardly get it all rigged up nicely when Mr. P. would smell the bait you’ve put there—(Oh, I forgot to mention the picture of Bob Lenz’s chicken that you’d hang up—and as Mr. P. wiggles himself right through the loop to snatch the great prize—KER-WHANG!!!

 

(I just turned deathly pale as I contemplated the horrible possibility of whiplash injury that would be imminent in a situation like this.) PLEASE—write and tell me HOW they disposed of the 9-1/2 foot python—IN DETAIL—so I will be well-informed and able to cope with such problems…

 

 

PERFECTION

PERFECTION

Position vs. Practice

 

 The first chapter of Ephesians lists all the blessings we enjoy because of what Christ has done for us.  These are our POSITION in Christ—blessed, chosen, holy, blameless, adopted, accepted, redeemed, forgiven, heirs, and sealed!

 

Being the perfectionist that I am, I have this deep desire to have my PRACTICE perfectly reflect my POSITION, and it surely does not!  This is a frustration and a grief to me; and then God led me to  Galatians 4, which in its context really has nothing to do with my dilemma, but the Spirit of God directed it in my heart so that it became perfectly applicable. 

 

It says “the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a servant, though he will eventually be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father.”  It was as though God was saying, “You ARE my heir but you are still a school child.”  Perhaps my tutor is the Holy Spirit and the governor is His word to teach this child the needed lessons for growth and maturity.

 

And I said, “But as I look back at my life, I can see so many things that if I knew then what I know now, I would have responded to the situation so differently L”  And the reply came,  “You are still a school child.  What you know now as a high schooler is far more than you knew as a kindergartener.  You are gaining more knowledge all the time, and one day, when I know the time is right, I will allow you to graduate and become my heir.”

 

And then I thought, “But to become an heir involves the death of the testator. God the Father is not dead, but God the Son did die and  His death provided for me all those blessings of my POSITION; and His death (providing forgiveness for my sins and failures) also qualifies me to be His heir as I’m struggling with my PRACTICE, so that when I graduate, my position and practice will be synonymous.

 

I praise Him for that!!!!

 

I woke up one morning to the music of a robin singing outside of my window, and then got up to care for the needs of my sweet little girl—all the while contemplating the hard things I needed to face that day……

 

ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD

 

                             Oh, that life were simple as a robin’s song

                             Bursting forth as fading stars salute the morn,

                            When the mind’s at rest, and sleep’s erased each wrong,

                             And heartaches of the coming day are yet unborn!

 

                             Oh, that life were simple as a baby’s smile,

                            Warming so the heart that’s known the chill of sin;

                             Radiating innocence and lack of guile,

                             Breathing forth a breath of Heaven’s joy within!

 

                             Ah, but life IS simple if we let it be.

                             How needlessly we stumble o’er each stone and clod!

                             I lift my hand above in faith; He clings to me,

                            And life becomes as simple as a walk with God!

MARY’S MINISTRY

Mary brought what she had as her gift to Jesus.  She poured precious ointment on His feet to anoint them, and then wiped them with her hair.

 

And when she left His presence, the same fragrance that rested upon Him became an aura surrounding her wherever she went—the fragrance of her love gift to her Lord.  It permeated the very air about her and blessed all who came near.

 

When we bring what we have as a love ministry for the Lord, through ministering those gifts to others, it is really for Him.  He has said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these….you have done it unto Me.”  So our giving of what we have rises as a precious fragrance in the presence of the Lord.  And He allows the sweet aroma of His pleasure in the love gift we offer, to perfume our own lives as we go.  When we have ministered unto Him, His fragrance surrounds us.  It flows forth as a sweet essence from Jesus, and refreshes others whose lives we touch—an odor of sweet-smelling sacrifice, well-pleasing to Him.

 

May the fragrance of Jesus radiate from our lives each day!

A Life of Prayer

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On April 9, 2014, Edith spoke on the topic of prayer at Aspen Grove Community Church prayer meeting.  I have not been able to get the video to upload to this blog, but here is the text of her talk:

I’m glad to be here and share about my prayer journey with you people, because it’s a delight to be able do that. When I was 6 years old, I went to a revival meeting at my aunt and uncle’s church, and there was a young revivalist, a young girl, 18 years old, her name was Uldeen Utley. I’ll never forget it.  And she preached the gospel.  Well, I was much too shy to go forward in that church, but when I went to bed that night I remember laying on the bed and crying my eyes out because Jesus had had to die for me.  And so I know that that’s when He came into my life.  And it’s been a steady, sweet walk with him for 86 years.  And you don’t have to stop and do the figuring, I’ll tell I’m 92 and I’ll be 93 next month.  So that was my initial introduction.  No, that wasn’t my initial introduction, because my daddy read the Bible . . .

(here there are a couple of sentences left out while the phone camera was being reset to get the focus right)

The conviction came to me that I was just not spending enough time in prayer.  And I wondered what to do about that, and finally I promised the Lord — and you better be careful when you  make a promise to the Lord, you’d better keep it, you know.  And I thought, well, how much time should I tell him?  And I thought, I don’t want to say too much, because I might not be able to do it, and I said, “Lord, I promise…5 minutes a day?”  Which was almost a disgrace.  But I didn’t want to promise too much.  But of course now, 5 minutes is a joke.  But, anyway, that was my beginning.

Over the years I developed a kind of a plan for prayer which really works for me.  I have a prayer journal and I have a method that I use each day which just works fine.  And if you — I don’t want to take the time to share all of that, because we came here to pray — but if you would be interested in learning that, if you could stay a few minutes after the prayer service ends, I would be happy to share that with you.  So, we’ll see about that.

Well, what is prayer, anyway?  Well, you all know what prayer is, but, actually, it is supposed to be a conversation with God.  You know, you have a friend, you have a conversation with them and you share things, and I think our prayers are oftentimes kind of one-sided because we do most of the talking.  Well, I have gotten so that I don’t do that so much any more.  I will say something to the Lord, and then I stop and wait to see if He has anything to say to me.  Sometimes He will give me an additional thought and I will put that into my prayer.  Once in a while He will speak to me.  And that’s such a thrill.

There was one day, in fact that song we sang tonight reminded me of this–one day I was worshipping the Lord and I stopped and I said “Lord, I’m supposed to worship you for all eternity, and I’ve run out of words in 5 minutes!  How am I going to worship you for all eternity?”  And in my spirit, he said, not with an audible voice of course, but when he speaks in your spirit you know what he’s saying.  He said “when you get to heaven, I am going to share something with you about myself that you have never known before, and you are going to worship me. And then I’m going to share something else with you, and you will worship.  And I will never run out of things to share with you, for all eternity.”  So I don’t think I have to worry about worshipping Him for all eternity.

But it’s really a two-way street.  I knew a girl one time who said, “When I go to prayer, I always put a chair in front of me and I visualize God in that chair and it helps me to talk with him.”  So that’s one thing that would be helpful.

Well, why do we pray anyway?  What’s the purpose?  A man said one time, “I don’t see the point in prayin’.  God’s got this whole thing planned out.  He knows what he’s going to do. It’s going to happen, so why should we pray?  Well, he was right on one part of it, because God does know what he’s doing and he has it all planned out.  But he missed the point completely in another way, because prayer is God calling us into a partnership with what He is doing in the world, in our lives, in our families’ lives, in our church life; He’s calling us into a partnership.  I can illustrate that to you with something that I experienced.

One night I went to bed — we had missionaries that were in Guatemala, a young couple — I had gone to bed and was waiting to go to sleep and all of a sudden I saw David’s face, just as clearly as I see your faces, and he looked so worried.  Then all of a sudden his face was gone and I saw Carol’s face, and she was crying.  And I thought, well I wonder if something is wrong, that they’re having this problem.  And so I began to pray for them and I said, “Lord, I have no idea what David and Carol might be needing, but you know and I just pray that you will enter into the problem that they are having and, Oh, God, don’t let her lose the baby!”  Well, as far as I knew Carol wasn’t even pregnant.  Well the next day I went to my mailbox and there was a letter in there from Carol, which of course she had written several weeks before, and she said “I’m pregnant again and I’ve been threatening to lose the baby.”  Well I sat right down and wrote them a letter and told them what had happened the night before.  I got a letter back from David and he said “Now we understand what we could not understand before.  He said, “When the Lord led you to pray, Carol had come down with Typhoid fever, and she was so bad. And all night I kept saying, “Carol, I don’t understand why you haven’t lost that baby.”  But he said, “Now, we know.”  Well, when that baby was about three months old they came home on furlough.  David was a big tall man and he stood there holding that little boy in his arms, and of course the people at church had all gathered around; they wanted to see that new baby.  David saw me standing on the fringes of the crowd.  He just simply lifted that baby over everybody’s heads and put him in my arms.  And I couldn’t see that baby’s face for my tears.  Now that baby is a missionary himself; he’s married and is a missionary in Guatemala. So God intended for that little boy to be alive and to be safe.  Because God had plans for him.  And it was going to happen. But God allowed me to be in partnership with him in this thing.  So I have a very real part in this little boy’s life.  What a blessing that was!

And a second thing happened — my son and his wife were missionaries in Irian Jaya, Indonesia.  One day I was praying for them and all of a sudden I said, “God, please open up a hole in the clouds so they can see where to go.”  And I didn’t know why I was praying that.  So I wrote a letter to  my son and I said, “By any chance were you up in a plane on that particular day?”  And he wrote back and said “Yes, we were flying from Anggi to Yawsakor and when we took off the sky was clear; we hadn’t gone far before the clouds rolled in and we couldn’t see the ground, we couldn’t see if were flying into a mountain (‘course those little MAF planes don’t have all the bells and whistles that the big planes have), and he said they were really pretty uptight, the pilot included.  And he said “All of a sudden there was a hole opened in the clouds, and there was the Yawsakor landing strip right in the middle of that hole, and we landed safely.”  So I still have the letter from the pilot that he wrote to me.  But you see, God didn’t want that plane to crash.  He wanted to still use my son and his wife on the mission field. And he had every intention of taking them safely.  But he allowed me to partner with him in that.  That’s one of the big things about the privilege of prayer, is partnering with God for what he wants to do anyway.   Letting us have a share in his ministries upon the earth and wherever.

Another thing about prayer — It frustrates our enemy!  The devil doesn’t want us to pray.  He just will do anything to keep us from a time of prayer. It got so I was so annoyed with it, I thought ‘What am I going to do about this?”  So I finally took a pencil and paper to my prayer time with me and when some of these thoughts would come to my mind after I started praying, like “That birthday card, it’s got to go in the mail today and you haven’t even written it yet!  You’ve got to fix that; that’s got to be done immediately!  What about that phone call?  You forgot to return that phone call and that’s important.” He’ll try to do anything to keep us from praying, or stop us.  So I finally took this pencil and paper with me to my prayer time, and whenever some of those thoughts would come I would quickly jot it down and go right back to prayer.  Well, by the time I would get done praying my whole agenda for the day was nicely laid out for it.  So, that sort of squelched that.  So, we frustrate the enemy with our prayers.

Sometimes we don’t know what to pray for.  I have people on my prayer list that I just really don’t know how to pray for.  But I am so comforted by the scripture that says, “The Spirit also helps our infirmities, for we don’t know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us, with groanings which can’t be uttered.”   He prays with such deep emotion.  “And He, God who searches the hearts, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints, according to God’s will.”  So when we don’t know what to pray for. . . .Sometimes I’ll say “Holy Spirit, I just don’t know.  Would you bring this to the Lord for me?”  Because, I oftentimes will address the Holy Spirit.  Or, depending on what I’m praying, I might pray to Jesus or pray to God or pray to the Holy Spirit.  Because it’s all God, but depending on what the situation is, I will address any one of them.

You might say, well, do you have to be super-spiritual to have experiences like this?  Well, I know probably many of you have had them.  And you don’t have to be super-spiritual.  If it took somebody that was super-spiritual I wouldn’t be sitting here talking with you, because I wouldn’t have had those experiences.  You know, it’s like a tool, a hammer.  That hammer lays on the workbench and it can’t do anything by itself.  But when the craftsman picks that hammer up and begins to use it, then beautiful things come out.  Well that’s…we’re like God’s tool.  And really, we aren’t worth much until that Craftsman picks us up in His hand, and then some beautiful things start to happen.

Well, there’s one other reason why we need to pray.  And it’s because it brings God so much pleasure.  The reason I know that is because it says in scripture, “There was an angel came and stood by the altar, having a golden censor, and there was given unto that angel much incense, that he should offer it, along with the prayers of all the saints, upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.”  So our prayers go up as a beautiful incense to   give God pleasure.  Is it worth it, then, to pray?  You bet it is. You bet it is.

So, we thwart the enemy, we enter into a partnership with God with what He is wanting to accomplish, we give God pleasure.  So it is worthwhile to pray.

I’m going to turn it back over to Mike so that we can go into partnership with God over the things that need to be done here at Aspen Grove.