I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “You don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.” It’s hard to win a fight when you don’t have the right weapon or worse, no weapons at all. You couldn’t survive that way. Somehow, many of us lose sight that we’re in a war daily with principalities and spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12). We’re constantly under attack, and when we aren’t armed or blind to the battle, we tend to give up ground. We also can’t afford to let fear keep us on the sidelines. We must equip ourselves daily, be ready for battle and fight on behalf of ourselves, our family and others so that we gain ground rather than lose it.
I love the story of David and Goliath because it’s a great representation of the spiritual battles we face. The army of Israel had everything they needed to defeat Goliath, but fear kept them on the sidelines for forty days. They tried to give David the wrong armor and weapons which would have cost him the battle. Thankfully he was wise enough to know what weapon he needed to win. He stepped onto the battlefield with confidence in God rather than his abilities. He then ran toward the giant sling in hand. When the giant fell, his faith and the faith of others around him grew.
Romans 13:14 says, “But take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature and satisfying its desires” (GNT). God has provided us with armor and weapons, but we must put them on and take them up. I like to go through the physical motions as I put them on. I’ll pray, “Lord, today I put on the Helmet of Salvation… Finally, help me to wield the Sword of the Spirit to win victory for my family.” I do the physical act of a spiritual process to remind myself that I’m dressed for battle and ready to stand against whatever comes my way. Through Christ Jesus, and His weapons, you and I can defeat whatever we’re facing today, but you need to arm yourself first.
I was in high school during the Gulf War. I remember getting to see the first videos of the war starting. Our initial offensive was called “Shock and Awe”. It was a way to use overwhelming force and incredible uses of power to dominate the enemy, to destroy their will to fight and to change their perception of what the battlefield was. This tactic works very well especially when combined with the element of surprise. It’s no wonder our spiritual enemy uses this tactic against us. How many times have you been hit out of the blue with continuous bad news?
The enemy of our soul hopes to paralyze us using shock and awe tactics. That’s why we always need to be prepared so we can respond the way Job did when Shock and Awe was used against him. In Ephesians 6, we read about the armor God has given us to withstand these attacks. Verse 13 says, “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet” (MSG).
Because the enemy attacks us this way, the first piece of armor mentioned that God gives us is the Belt of Truth. We need to know the truth of who we are in Christ so we aren’t paralyzed by fear. Next is the Breastplate of Righteousness that covers our heart. We have to protect our heart because it gives us the will to fight. We are then given footwear to remind us to keep moving. We can’t stay still in this battle. Our Shield Of Faith helps protect us from all the things the enemy throws at us by keeping our trust in God. The Helmet of Salvation ensures we have a sound mind. The Sword of the Spirit puts us on the offensive using God’s Word. Finally, we can’t forget to pray. It keeps our focus on God, gives us to will to fight and keeps the battlefield in perspective. Using these, you can withstand the enemy’s Shock and Awe.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
In today’s world, everything is politicized which makes each of us feel like we have to be on one side or the other. When we choose a side in any issue, we feel we are right, which means anyone who doesn’t agree with the way we think is wrong. When we think someone is wrong about any issue we are passionate about, they become our enemy. When they become our enemy, we lose the love we’re supposed to have for them and can begin to care less if they make it to Heaven. This is a real struggle that many of us are going through in this day and age, and I believe it’s a strategy of the devil to keep us from winning souls. He has us more concerned with causes, politics and ways of thinking than with eternity. While these topics are important, we must make sure we’re not falling victim to our enemy’s deceit.
Ephesians 6:11-12 says, “Put on God’s complete set of armor provided for us, so that you will be protected as you fight against the evil strategies of the accuser! Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings, but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms. For they are a powerful class of demon-gods and evil spirits that hold this dark world in bondage” (TPT). You and I are entrenched in a spiritual war right now whether we like it or not. The enemy’s strategy right now is to get us to think our fight is against other humans who don’t think like we do. If he can distract us with that, then he can keep us from the Great Commission. When we think our struggle is with people, we direct our attacks on them. We need to put on God’s Armor each day to help us think and see people, issues and battles the way God wants us to.
Jesus showed us a different way when He said, “However, I say to you, love your enemy, bless the one who curses you, do something wonderful for the one who hates you, and respond to the very ones who persecute you by praying for them (Matthew 5:44).” When we put on God’s Armor, we will love our enemies rather than hate them or despise them. In fact, we are to pray for them and bless them. Remember it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). The next time you feel attacked or feel like someone is your enemy, remember to put on God’s Armor, ask Him to help you love them like He does and then turn your attack on our real enemy who knows that a house divided can’t stand (Mark 3:25). Our enemy has a strategy, but so does God. We need to make sure we are aligned with God’s and are not falling for our enemy’s.
I Googled, “How do you become a Navy Seal”. One of the first returns was funny to me. Wikihow said, “Visit your local Navy recruiter, rock the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, get your Navy contract, pass the Seal Physical Screening Test, get your Navy Seal contract.” Seems easy enough except passing the Navy Seal Physical Screening Test is one of the most physically and mentally tough tests on the planet. It’s five and a half days of hell week where You get less than four hours sleep, run more than 200 miles, do calisthenics in the freezing rain, fight ocean currents and physical training more than 20 hours a day. Over 75% of people ring the bell and quit.
I bring that up because there are people who go into that test without preparing or training themselves mentally or physically. I think the same could be said of many of us when it comes to preparing for pressure in life. No one is exempt from it, but so many of us are shocked when it hits and then keeps coming. We must have a firm foundation in God’s Word, a solid relationship with Him through prayer and be surrounded by His people if we’re going to survive the high pressure times of life.
Proverbs 24:10 says, “If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small” (NLT). The good news is that we don’t have to fight these pressures in our own strength. Ephesians 6:10 says, “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” He then encourages us to put on the Armor of God to prepare for battle and pressure. He knew that you and I were going to go through some tough battles where we would want to give up. If we’re properly prepared with our helmet of salvation, shield of faith, breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth of God’s Word, our shoes of peace and the sword of the Spirit, we can withstand whatever comes against us.
Michael W. Smith wrote a simple, but powerful song. It’s lyrics only contain two sentences, but they speak volumes. The song says, “This is how I fight my battles. It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.” To me, it’s a great reminder in those moments when I’m overwhelmed, feel alone in the battle and it looks like I’m about to get crushed. When you’re staring down odds that are stacked against you and it feels easier to give up rather than to keep fighting, this song reminds me who I’m really surrounded by. It reminds me that if God is for me, who can be against me.
After the Israelites left Egypt, God decided to set a trap for Pharaoh. He had them turn back and camp at a place that had them appear lost. When Pharaoh took the bait and pursued them, they were trapped against the Red Sea with no where to go. Pharaoh’s army surrounded them and they were afraid. They forgot who they were really surrounded by. In Exodus 14:15, Moses said, “Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see what the Lord will do to save you today” (GNT). The Lord split the Red Sea In two and destroyed Pharaoh’s army.
You may feel all alone and trapped by your situation today, but I believe the Lord is telling us to stand our ground. The Amplified Bible describes standing your ground as, “Be Firm, confident and undismayed.” Take your eyes off of the things you feel surrounded by and look at God. He’s greater than anything you’re facing and is surrounding you now. Rest in His presence and stand your ground. Your victory isn’t dependent on you. It’s God who fights our battles, but we must stand firm with the Armor of God found in Ephesians 6. Don’t forget it may feel like you’re surrounded, but you’re surrounded by God.
Each year, I take one week off from writing to help me refresh and reset. This is that week. To help you stay faithful to your daily devotional time, I’m bringing back a series I wrote a few years ago on disciplines we as Christians need to have. Enjoy and I’ll be back next week with all new devotions.
The next important step in spiritual discipline is setting goals. Each of us set goals in our daily lives whether it’s for work, retirement, our family or leisure. Why don’t we set spiritual goals? Proverbs 21:5 says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity.” (NLT) We need to plan out our spiritual growth. Where do you want to be in your walk with God one year from now? Five years from now? Ten years from now? What would that look like?
It’s going to take hard work to achieve those goals. Spiritual growth doesn’t just happen over night. It takes time, planning, dedication and hard work. I also encourage you to write out your goals. Read them out loud every day. Tell yourself where you’re going and keep your eye on the prize. Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” (NKJV) You are not running a sprint race. You’re running a marathon. If you’re going to run, you need to write it down and read it so you can continue to run in the hard times! Having the right goals for the right reasons will help you to be successful. A few months ago I wrote an entire post on setting spiritual goals. You can read it here.
Wearing The Right Gear
In physical training and exercise, the right gear is of utmost importance. Your gear can help you or hinder you. In I Samuel 17:38 – 40 we read where David was about to go out to fight Goliath. Saul wanted David to be dressed for battle so he put his own armor on him. The Message says that “David tried to walk around but he could hardly budge… Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five stones from the brook, and he put them in his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath.”
Knowing what gear you need to be spiritually disciplined is key. While Saul’s armor was too big, God’s armor is just right. It was tailor made for you! Ephesians 6 tells us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood so physical armor won’t do any good. We need spiritual armor. It also tells us that we should put on God’s complete armor. Half way dressed for this won’t cut it. You will be in trouble quickly unless you fully suit up.
In a marathon, your shoes are one of your most important pieces. It’s the same in our spiritual race too. Ephesians 6:15 says, “And having shod your feet in preparation to face the enemy with firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news of the Gospel of peace.” (AMP) If you’re going to resolve to be spiritually fit and to grow spiritually, you need to be prepared to face some opposition from the enemy. You need the Word of God to help you keep your footing while you are fighting. Jesus used the Word of God to keep His footing while being tempted and you should too.
Tomorrow, we will look at having the proper nutrition and staying hydrated.
As a kid, I loved to play King of the Hill. There’s was something fun about standing on top of some dirt and trying to keep from being knocked off. As the others would run up the hill, you’d try to push them down as they tried to push you off the top. There were days when I couldn’t seem to hold my ground, and other days when no one could knock me down. I had no idea that I was learning important lessons during that game.
I had no idea the importance of high ground and the strategic advantage it gave whoever was the King of the Hill. It turns out that when you are on the high ground, you choose the terms of mobility and can deny your opponents from taking ground. You have the ability to use your weight and gravity together to resist while they are fighting you and gravity. Being higher up also reduces the angle of attack from below.
I say all of that because you and I are in a daily struggle with the devil. In Ephesians 6:13, Paul tells us, “So put on God’s armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground” (GNT). As I’ve read this my whole life, I’ve imagined myself on even ground in this fight, but now I understand we have the high ground! You and I have the advantage and can hold our ground when the enemy attacks.
When we accept Christ, we immediately gain higher ground. Our lives begin to move upward, that’s why the enemy attacks. He wants to knock us down, but we have the advantage in higher ground. We can increase our odds of holding our ground significantly if we will also put on the while armor of God. We will not only be able to resist attacks, but we will still be holding our ground as King of the Hill that God has set us on. Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking he has the advantage.
I’ve known many people in my life who have followed the call of God only to return when hard times hit them. I call it the Jonah effect. The thought process goes like this. If they really were following God’s call then they would see whole cities saved as Jonah did when he finally went to Nineveh. They go, they show up, and everything works out perfectly. However, when they’re faced with constant obstacles and apparent set backs, they feel like they went the opposite direction from God’s will. Therefore, they feel they need to quit and go back to square one.
Think about Moses for a minute. I think we can all agree that in Exodus 3 and 4, God called him to go to Egypt and set His people free. So why didn’t Pharaoh just release them the first time Moses asked? Why did Pharaoh make their workload harder? Why did the people whom Moses was trying to get set free urn on him? Because there will always be resistance when you’re in God’s will. The enemy is unwilling to just surrender territory he has built strongholds in.
When you and I face obstacles and challenges while following God’s voice, we shouldn’t turn around and go back home. We should stay and fight the spiritual battle in front of us. We need to put on the spiritual armor that God laid out for us in Ephesians 6. We need to be prayed up and dressed for battle expecting a fight whenever we are following God’s call. We shouldn’t expect an easy road just because we are following God’s call.
More often that not, those obstacles in our way tend to be people. Moses had Pharaoh, David had Saul, Elisha had Jezebel, and you may have someone too. I think it’s important to remember that Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (NLT). The people who stand in our way are not the enemy. We must fight the enemy who is behind the scenes if we are going to win the victory. It may take some time and a lot of effort, but God called you to that particular battle for a reason.
Don’t be like so many who run when there’s trouble. Don’t fall for the Jonah Effect. If you’re facing resistance, and it appears that people are blocking you from accomplishing God’s will, look behind the scenes. Your battle is not with that person or people. Your true battle is with the enemy behind the scenes. Fight on your knees, but still show up to accomplish God’s will day in and day out like Moses did. When he faced resistance, he went back to God each time looking for help. Moses fought his way to victory and so will you if you don’t get discouraged and turn around.
It is true that we live in the world, but we do not fight from worldly motives. The weapons we use in our fight are not the world’s weapons but God’s powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds.
II Corinthians 10:3-4 (GNB)
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