Friday, September 18, 2015

Armor of God

Currently I am working through the Armor of God study with Priscilla Shirer.  I highly recommend it.  The movie War Room that is doing very well at the box office, is such a great complement to this study. Priscilla is also the leading actress in the movie. If you have the time, I suggest you check it out also.

The movie focuses on our need to do our fighting in prayer. The study talks about the armor we need as a Christian warrior.

The thing that I found most surprising in the study is the 7th piece of armor being prayer.  I had never put it together with the rest of the armor. I have read those verses in Ephesians 6 many times. And for whatever reason, I had not put it together.  But it is right there in black and white.

The first week we spent time studying about how to size up the real enemy. It reminded me that people are not the enemy. How often we war against one another. Even in our own homes, churches, towns and even within our own country. This week talked about how the war is fought in heavenly places and that we do battle in prayer. It was a reminder that we have an enemy that is trying to steal, kill and destroy us. It also talked about how he studies us for areas where he can attack us. He attacks us in our areas where we may be weak or hurting, but he also comes at us in areas of strength and places where we have the greatest influence.

The second week we looked at the belt of truth. Priscilla pointed out that the truth is simply God's opinion on any matter.  That is by far the best way for me to look at that.  As I seek the word of God
and study it, I just need to remember that I am seeking it to determine God's perspectives, standards and expectations. Once I seek it, I need to obey it, which leads me to the next week.

The third week is the breastplate of righteousness. As we study the word of God, we initially discover that we are lost, separated from God, and an enemy of God because of sin. Based on our confession  that "Jesus is Lord' and belief that God raised Him from the dead, we are saved. This belief, according to God's word, says that He counts that as our righteousness. Therefore, I am right with God because of Christ. I am not righteous because of my doing, but it is based on the one to whom I belong. Priscilla points out that Jesus' perfect righteousness is counted to me. Based on that account, I am now free to practice what I already have. She puts it this way, "Perfect makes practice." I have to exercise my righteousness. Because I am right with God, based on His grace through my faith, I am now reconciled with God which leads me to the follow week.

The fourth week talks about the shoes of peace. In this week, I was really challenged to consider that true peace is best displayed in "backdrop of chaos and commotion." Although we wish this were not the case, I think we all can admit that it is in the difficulties of life we tend to turn to God.  In the good times, we typically imply that we've got it, and we just don't have need of God... Maybe not consciously but subconsciously we sure do.  Funny thing is, we are always in need of Him, we are just not always convinced of it during the times of plenty and blessings.  It is when we are at the end of our ropes that we realize we needed Him all along.

We are to take the good news to the world that they do not have to be far away from God, but they can be brought near through Jesus Christ. This good news is watered down to the lost world when we are not walking in peace in our own lives.  We have to live with integrity and live out the gospel in order for the hearer to be convinced to even begin to listen to us. Without us living in peace, what exactly are we trying to share with the world? Hypocrisy is such a deterrent to the gospel. In this week of the study, she talks about our need to cultivate and activate peace. She says we do this by gratitude and trusting God. In our study group, one of the ladies noted that when we spend time recounting our reasons to be grateful it encourages us to trust God all the more.  That is such a great reminder to approach prayer with gratitude. As in Psalms 100:4, it tells us to enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Take time to recount your blessings and focus on God, it will make you look at your list of requests in an entirely different way. And watch your peace grow.

I am currently working on week five.  It is about the shield of faith.  The main thing that is standing out to me so far is that faith is our belief in action based on our confidence. I will let you know if there is more to share on this topic as I progress.

The controversy and debate ask, "since we are right with God already, why not just live however we want to and sin?

I think we miss the point of this gift from God when this is the question we pose. If we really believe Him, we will obey His commands, we will believe He wants what is best for us. Even the restrictive rules that seem to take away our freedom, are truly for our protection. So when we surrender to the idea that He does want what is BEST for us and follow Him and His opinion of what is best, it is truly in surrender where true freedom comes into the picture.  It is like being able to breathe again. We can rest when we fully trust, lean into and surrender to God.

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