Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-20

Ah yes, the famous passage on the armor of God, a passage many know by heart, a favorite sermon passage and a favorite devotional passage rich with metaphor and meaning; a wonderful passage. I thought that I’d approach it a little differently this time. Accordingly, I’ll not really comment on the metaphoric aspect, but focus on the underlying strategic circumstances that all of us face every day.

The whole armor metaphor is a way of communicating an important issue that for most of us is not easy to understand, the issue of spiritual warfare. Over the centuries, people have understood this in various ways and many legends and ballads have been the result, both in literature and other art forms. There have been times when people in superstitious cultures have gone to bizarre lengths, burning witches, so called heretics and almost anyone who incurred disfavor in high councils; history is full of such insanity. I can’t help but wonder how otherwise good people couldn’t see where the evil one was really operating, but then maybe they forgot to put on their armor!

In our day, the idea of spiritual warfare is often limited to the oddball fringe, “nuters” as our British friends might say; you might hear a lot on the subject on radio talk shows that air in the wee hours, along with spacemen and such. Oh my, how clever our adversary can be!

The truth, as Paul points out, is that we are very much involved in a spiritual war; in a sense we are on the front lines. Yet as physical beings, we can’t always see the action, even though we might discern the result. Putting on the armor of God is a series of metaphors that are telling us that we need to be centered on our relationship with Christ, who is the source of truth. In a close and vibrant relationship with Him, we are not likely to be fooled or sucked into things we have no business getting into, as well as being protected from spiritual attack. This requires maturity to understand… and maturity is attained through relationship with Him, so we must not neglect that relationship.

Spiritual discernment is something that all of us should have, but not so many actually attain. Spiritual discernment is not a matter of seeing spooks in the dark, but rather the comprehension of the source of certain things. There is also a spiritual gift of discernment which some have; a person with the spiritual gift of discernment can discern the source of a teaching or the source of a person’s personal issues. Yet, we don’t need the spiritual gift of discernment to be discerning, the gifted person may understand more and more easily, but any of us can be discerning enough to stay out of trouble.

Look at the world situation today; consider cultural trends, trends in families, homes and personal habits of people. Include values, morality and motivations. Also consider items in the news, and our various institutions…

God is at work in our midst, and so is the other guy. Ask yourself where God is working, and where the Adversary is working; can you see the difference? I’ll offer a hint, one that I mention quite often here:

Nothing in this world is quite what it appears to be at first.

This is Paul’s message in our passage, and is the reason that he concludes it with an appeal for us to be in prayer. Verses 18-20 deal with this: Pray for each other, pray for Paul, and others who spread the gospel, pray for the gospel, for many to receive it, for others to grow in their relationships, for God’s Kingdom and will to be done: Grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

That dear reader is the summation of the armor of God, that we grow in our relationships with Him and remain in His presence, and that is also the summation of the entire letter to the Ephesians:

Have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

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Photo of the Week: December 12, 2018

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TLP Inspiration: 12/12/18

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Master and Servant

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

Ephesians 6:5-8

Paul continues now in the third area of human relationship, that between master and slave (servant). In our day, it’s safe for us to accept that these principles apply just as much to employers and employees, since few of us live in a slave economy as they did in the first century.  Beginning with the servants, Paul instructs them to honor their masters (employers) with their sincere best efforts and good attitudes, reminding them that they are really working for the Lord.

It would be more than fair to ask just how or in what sense a worker is working for the Lord in his or her job, so let’s remember that we have been redeemed for a purpose. The purpose for which we have been redeemed is to share God’s love with those around us, and when we are at work, we can show God’s love in the way we do our jobs and in the way we treat people. Recall that in marriage each party is to put the other ahead of themselves. In the parent child relationship, the same is true. In the workplace, Paul is spelling out once again this principle; workers, put the interests of the boss ahead of your own.

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

Ephesians 6:9

Masters, bosses and employers, the same principle applies to you; put the interests of your workers ahead of your own− you also are charged with sharing God’s love with those around you!

This relationship, like the first two, illustrates an aspect of our relationship with God: Master and servant. Jesus is our Master, and as such He has given everything to redeem us to God and make possible the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. We are His servants, charged with putting the interests of His Kingdom ahead of our own.

I wonder, if we were to receive a “report card” from God, how would our grades look in each of these three areas of life? Hopefully we’d all receive high marks, but more likely each one of us has some need for improvement, after all, this life is a journey and we are all works in progress. My prayer is that all of us will prayerfully consider Paul’s instructions in this chapter.

OK, one more thrill-packed episode from Ephesians… the “season finale” you might say!

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Focus on the Family

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:1-4

As he did in Colossians, Paul follows his instruction for married couples with instruction for children and parents, after which he will address masters and servants. These relationships are the three areas in which most people spend the majority of their lives. As with the marriage relationship, each of these three major areas of human interaction is illustrative of an aspect of our relationship with God. In the case of children and parents, are we not all someone’s child? Are we not also a child of God… and is not God our Heavenly Father?

Children are told to obey their parents “in the Lord.” That children should obey their parents is universally understood, but what does he mean by “in the Lord?” I doubt he means that children should only obey their parents if they follow the Lord, or only if they are being godly, for this would require judgments that children are generally not qualified to make. It is clear, however that obedience is within the Lord’s will for children and in this way, it would be “in the Lord.” Next, Paul tells us that for a child to obey his or her parents is “right.”

It is also a commandment carried over from the Old Testament, and finally, that commandment carries with it a promise of God. Thus, Paul gives us four solid reasons for children to obey their parents… and for us to obey our Heavenly Father.

As with his instruction to husbands and wives, Paul is not one-sided in his instruction: Fathers (and mothers) are not to exasperate their children, but instead they are to raise their children in the knowledge of the Lord. If you think about it, for a child to be naughty from time-to-time is to be expected, they are children after all. For parents to misbehave towards their children is quite another matter, for aren’t they supposed to be adults?

Let’s take a step back and look at this passage with a little perspective, can you see the pattern?

For a child to be obedient he or she must submit his or her will to that of the parent; hasn’t Paul mentioned “submission” just before this? Yes, I believe he did. For the parent not to exasperate their child, don’t they need to exercise restraint? Yes, I think being a parent requires considerably more restraint than anything else.

Does that remind you of another relationship?

As God’s children, we are asked to submit our will to His, and God’s most notable attribute is His restraint. Interesting isn’t it?

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TLP Living: 12/10/18

Visions of Christmas Present- Redux


To me, Christmas today seems way too complicated.  Of course, if I could visit another era, it may be just the same…  Who really knows for sure?

Christmas, and here I really mean the Christmas season, seems complicated because it involves an awful lot of activity.  When my three kids were little, there were at least three different programs that had to fit in; sometimes there were more.  Of course there’s also the annual Kids’ Christmas program at Church…

Of course there are also the office events, and events for any other organization that we might be involved with, including church.  There was decorating that needed to be done, house cleaning added in to the normal routine because of various family get-togethers, and quite naturally there were family get-togethers at others’ houses that need to be attended.

Invariably there is some kind of church activity for the less fortunate, and the Christmas Eve service that must be prepared for… oh yes, and gifts that need to be shopped for, cookies and sweets that need to be made, and all of this goes on when the football starts to get really good!

Even the weather seems to conspire… you have to rush off to the Christmas play and you look out the window to discover that since you last noticed several inches of snow came down and you need to rush out and shovel.  One year we got six feet the Saturday before Christmas: what a mess!p00121516001

It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the rush, craziness and things, loosing entirely the simple and basic reasons for the Holiday.

For to us a child is born, a son is given…

I have become a firm believer in jumping off of the Christmas roller coaster! Now that’s not to say that anything I have mentioned is bad… there’s just too much of it!

First and foremost Christmas is a season to celebrate and remember the birth of a Savior; Christ the Lord.  It is a time to be thankful to God for all that He has done for us through Jesus Christ, and to re-dedicate ourselves to His service.


Second, it is a time to share God’s love with friends and family, and together to joyfully give Him praise and thanks.

Third it’s a great time to relax and enjoy the company of loved ones in peace and joy.


It could just be that I’m way too old-fashioned; maybe I’m just an old Scrooge… I just can’t believe that the modern-day Christmas roller coaster is quite what God had in mind for this season of celebrating the birth of His Son.


This year I’m only going to participate in the things that are really important, the ones that really focus in on what the season is supposed to be about!

As you might imagine, I say that every year.  I am absolutely booked between now and the big day…

Next year I’ll show ’em how it should be done…

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TLP Inspiration: 12/10/18

Good Monday morning from the Heartland

As a new week begins…

…each of us will face its challenges. There will be circumstances that develop, circumstances over which we may not have any control, circumstances that we simply cannot fix or that are bigger and stronger than we are. Some will surmount those situations and circumstances; others will be swept up by them− which will it be for you?

There were two boats sailing in the bay. A stiff wind swept into the area blowing in the direction of the rocks and away from the harbor. The pilot of one of the boats was taken closer and closer to the rocks, its pilot having great difficulty controlling his course as the wind blew him closer and closer to disaster. Yet the pilot of the other boat adjusted his sails and set his course against the wind toward the safe harbor, for he knew that a good sailor can use the wind and sail against it. The minutes went by as one boat approached its end on the rocks and the other approached the safe harbor…

When all was said and done, the first sailor was lucky to have survived, and the other wrapped up an enjoyable day of sailing.

As we begin this new week, we can either be wrecked on the rocks of our circumstances or we can let God direct our course into the safe harbor of His loving arms, for just as two boats can sail in opposite directions in the same wind, we can move in opposite directions in response to our circumstances. In the case of sailing, the difference is training and skill. In the case of our life’s circumstances, it is seeking God’s presence that makes the difference.

Which way will we sail this week?

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