So, if I’m experiencing challenges that seem almost insurmountable, is there something I can do to get to a stronger place in my life? Abso-Holy-lutely! Probably is as simple as you're just not workin' that faith!
One scripture that I pray every day is The Armor of God, Ephesians 6:10-18 - 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. 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.
I’ve put in bold the following words from above: be, put, can take, to stand your ground, stand after, to stand, stand firm, buckled around your waist, in place, feet fitted, take up, can extinguish, take, pray, be alert, and keep on. Significantly, all of these words are verb forms; they are not passive. The words highlighted above are verbs that we willfully choose, willfully determine.
We are called to be active not passive in our walk with Christ, not fall into a trap of not paying much attention, maybe going to church once a week, seeking him when we need something or in a spot of trouble. If we are then it should be no surprise when we get attacked and defeated by enemies antithesis to Him, such as anxiety, fear, lack of hope, depression, shame, regret, and the list goes on.
We are constantly up against rulers, authorities, and powers of a dark world. Those nouns are not put in there just to fill up space. We are to be strong in the Lord. Be. It means to exist, to live, to breathe, to draw breath. We are to exist daily in Him, to live daily in Him, to breathe Him, His Spirit into ourselves, as deeply as possible into our core.
Paul instructs us to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” We’re not called to look at the full armor of God, not to admire it, to keep it close by our side or bedside at night. No. We are to put it on. Willfully put it on every day.
Why? Because we need it for protecting our minds, our hearts, the divine foundation upon which we stand. Why? Because we are too easily swayed by things and distractions that don’t nourish our spirit and help us to grow in spiritual strength and character.
Jesus tells us the world will bring trouble of its own but to be encouraged because he has overcome the world. Without Jesus, we can’t and won’t overcome this world. He calls us to take a stand against the devil’s schemes by putting on the armor. Without it, we stumble, we fall, we wither, like the things of this world.
I think too often we think devilish things are easily recognized as demonic. Oh, contraire. The devil's schemes are not slimy, oozy goblins; rather, they are things of beauty that lure us. Even Satan was the most beautiful angel in Heaven. A scheme isn’t something that just happens. Scheme is defined as a carefully, well laid out plan. So, what initially seems harmless ends up clinching you and dragging you to the dark side, like marital affairs, pornography, addictions, emotional spending, etc.
When we are told to stand firm, to stand our ground, that means we need to withstand a force moving against us that is extremely powerful; it isn’t something we can manage successfully without Christ. Just take a look at Psalm 91:4-10 “...his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 5 You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.”
God instructs us: 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.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” This means we don’t casually adorn ourselves with His Truth, His Word, we don’t just pop off a scripture every now and then, we don’t stick our Bibles in a drawer, which I did at one time; big mistake; big HUGE mistake. No, we are to fasten His Truth to us by studying it, getting it memorized, getting a firm understanding of it, so we know how imperative it is for fighting against struggles in this world and protecting what He deposits into us each day.
Righteousness is being right with God when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We need to have that in place. Solid, secure, not wobbly, not blowing in the wind, not hanging, like a thread. Without Christ, we have no access to God, let alone the deeper things of God.
Jesus stated, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Joshua 14:16. These are the words of Christ himself. If we believe anything else, from someone or something that didn’t do on earth and in Heaven what Jesus did then we’re being led and spiritually traveling in the wrong direction.
Our feet must be fitted with the peace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; it is the foundation upon which we stand. He is our rock. It’s a solid, secure base. It’s not cracked, it’s not quicksand, it’s not sandy, it’s not muddy. It clean and solid, the ultimate position to discern that what we hear, see, and feel is His Truth and not something some person made up on their own personal philosophy and profit. And it helps us discern between who is really preaching God’s Word and who is just tickling ears to fill their collection buckets.
When we take up the shield of faith, when we willingly choose to strengthen our faith in Him every day, we can slice through lies and deceptions of this world that lead us to dark, destructive places. And maybe not seemingly horrid places, but places, nonetheless, where we aren’t growing, we’re dulled, just existing day to day. Maybe even in a place where we are happy but don’t have Christ in our lives, which is the most dangerous trap.
Joyce Meyer nailed it when she said, “I’d rather be with Jesus on my worst day than to be without him on my best day.” We recognize the lies, lures, and deceptions for what they are, no matter how innocent they appear. And we replace them, slice them, cut them to pieces with the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit.
There’s a trending phrase, “I own my truth.” It serves us much better to know His Truth. When we do that we get strong in our foundation then our truth becomes a service to others and not something to merely flash about, like a cheap piece of jewelry.
Finally, we are called to pray every day, for ourselves, our loved ones, our friends, our leaders, etc. Not long Latinate prayers, not dull repetitive prayers flopped out in dull, rote, redundancy, but with a heartfelt sincerity. Whether it’s just a sentence or two, or a longer supplication, as long as we are authentic and sincere. After all, God knows our hearts, so of anyone He knows when we’re being fake or authentic.
We are called to be active, alert, buckled into His armor each day, sharp in our faith, in our knowledge of His Word, in cutting through deceptions, no matter how good they sound. Jesus is the foundational rock on which we stand, a rock of peace, but it is a peace that honors him and his Father. And it is that honor that is the foundation of our joy.
Praising God isn’t about fulfilling the needs of a vain God; when we love something, a person, good book, a good film, we talk about it. We “sing” its glories because it gives us pleasure. It’s the same with God; it’s because we glean so much joy when we’re on track with Him that we can’t help but sing His praises.
And anything that is not for Christ is antiChrist. I think when we hear antiChrist, we think of demonic dictators, destroyers of humanity, but it can be anything or anyone not for Christ. It can be quite lovely to look at, lovely to feel, lovely to experience, until it’s not.
Thus, we must always be alert in Him and through Him. And He’s got our backs. But we must hold ourselves accountable to be active, for each day, though you cannot see into the spiritual realm, is a battle until Christ returns.