Monday, November 15, 2010

Firm in the Faith

Ephesians 6:14-16 (NIV) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

When I read this passage, I envision a Roman soldier, equipped for battle, standing firm and steadfast among the rank and file. The early Christians, living under Roman rule, were all too familiar with the image Paul evokes here, yet brilliantly alters to reflect what it means to "put on the full armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11). He is keenly aware that the enemy, Satan, is alive and well and eager to claim the souls of Christ's followers. There is a battle at hand, there is a war brewing, and Paul exhorts the Ephesians to be prepared in truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, and faith for the times that will try their souls and try to take them from the Lord.

One constant I have noticed as I strive to walk with Jesus is that every affliction or adversity encountered eventually leads me to a deeper, more profound spiritual revelation. While I trudge through the valley of the shadows, though, this is difficult if not impossible to remember as I wallow selfishly in my troubles, turning them over to God only to snatch them back like a spoiled toddler. It is in the midst of those moments when I most need to stop and take an inventory of my armor. Has the belt of truth been buckled? Is my breastplate tarnished with self-righteousness? Am I sharing the gospel of peace with others through prayer and witness? Is my shield of faith drooping woefully at my side? When Satan bids me dwell on my trials instead of counting my blessings, it's time to acknowledge the chinks and flaws I've allowed to blemish my armor and pray that God will mend it like new.

So, let me ask you - what does your armor look like today? Does your belt buckle need a bit of spit and polish? Is your breastplate shining and squarely in place? Are your feet ready to go and spread the good news? Is your shield held high and triumphant? If not, take the time to reflect and to pray that the Lord will heal any hurts you now suffer and surround you once more in His protective and loving armor and arms.

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