Suit up!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” ~ Ephesians 6:10-11

Beat down, exhausted, drained, weary…..just plain weak…

I know these are feelings that we all experience at different points in our lives. In all actuality, they can be feelings we come in and out of on a daily basis. Our earthly bodies and minds are flawed, imperfect as well as virtually dying from the moment we are brought into this world. We are also born with an enormous target on our backs. The truth is that Satan is focused on nothing more than creating suffering and pain for us all. There are times when we feel this attack much stronger…

Literally speaking I have never worn armor. I have never gone through the process of placing each individual piece on my body, each with its own intent to protect me from a certain manner of attack. I can, however, imagine putting on armor and being suited up for battle. I believe I would feel strong and safe at the same time. I would feel impervious to whatever attack was brought upon me. I would be prepared for whatever I was about to face.

The truth is that the armor of God is absolute protection in our battle against evil. We should feel this exact way when we put it on- strong and safe. Only with each specific addition to our suit of armor are we prepared to battle Satan. I won’t go into each piece that scripture describes but encourage all of us to study what each one means. The full armor of God is made up of: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness (gospel of peace), the helmet of salvation, shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit (Word of God).

As we study His word and learn about this very powerful yet protective weapon against Satan let us all feel strong and safe. Finally, in verse 18 we are reminded that even when we have on this full armor that we must still pray. We must pray in the spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. Only by doing this will we stay alert and truly be prepared to fight in the strength that is given by the Holy Spirit.

Giving God Your Two Cents

At my church we have this multipurpose activities building. We have used this building to its fullest. It’s held our sanctuary and gym, multiple classrooms, almost every on-site meal… My life-group used to meet upstairs in this one room where every time it rained, it would leak from the ceiling. We’d put trash cans and buckets, but the ceiling is now falling in. We held workdays and patched the roof, but nothing has held. We eventually moved rooms.

Recently we decided that the solution of 2 entire rooms just not being usable was not going to work, and we started a fundraising effort to fix it. We wanted to raise all $60,000 in 40 days. This would be above and beyond all of our normal giving. I was dubious.

Last week in about 1/2 the time we had raised $60,227. I leaned over to my wife. “How about that?” I said.  “$60,000.” “And $227”, she pointed out”. “That’s important”.  I don’t know if she was joking. But she was right.

Mark 12:41-44 gives us this story of a widow who has almost nothing and gives her two coins faithfully. Jesus knows this and knows her heart. He exalts her offering above the rest because of the faithfulness and trust she shows to God by giving it.

There were certainly some very large donations that helped us meet that goal. And knowing my church, they were being faithful stewards of what was entrusted to them. But someone gave $1 or $10 just as faithfully, if not more so.

This week I want to remind you that God has money, but He needs your faithfulness. And in the big picture, you need the $60,000, but He wants your two coins more.

 

Every Bit of You… All the Time

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

By its very nature, this verse depicts so much of what Christ has intended for each and every one of our lives. Its notice and intent are both clear and direct from the beginning. God himself wants all of us to be sanctified; that is to be set apart and declared holy in His eyes. While this scripture is very direct it is also a calling for us to act.

One section of this verse seemed to really jump out at me more so than the rest. That part is the description of the wholeness of ourselves that we are to keep blameless. I understand that “whole spirit, soul and body..” would relate to the entire being of a person. I think what jumps out at me is the not so ironic fact that Christ knew what His creation (mankind) was to be and how they would behave. Seldom is a time that we truly place our entire being in the completion of any undertaking. God Himself knew that we would need to be reminded to really put our proverbial backs into what He was saying.

He also knew that for this to happen, I mean in order for us to put our entire being into being kept blameless, we would have to certainly allow Christ to be involved in each and every aspect of our lives.

We cannot separate our “spiritual or religious” lives from the rest of what we are. We also cannot obey God in only parts of our lives. Finally, we certainly must not allow ourselves to be the lukewarm Christian and only live for him a few hours or a day a week. If our entire being is to be kept blameless at His coming we have to act in such a way until that time comes. Simply stated: if we have everything to gain we should only be required to risk everything to get there.

 

~Kenny Stahl

Photo Credit: Xavier Coiffic

The Evidence of Faith

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:1, 3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I have always wanted a telescope, but I’ve never had one. I’ve always wanted to be able to observe the things I have learned in science, and not just see pictures. But nonetheless, I believe I the things I’ve been taught and haven’t seen. I believe they’re out there because someone has seen them and has evidence they exist.

I also love history. A lot of things I know about history I was taught. I wasn’t there, but I know they happened because they were written down in a relatively objective way so that later on we could read and learn about them.

Its odd to me that when we read these things that other people have observed and know, we readily accept them, but when it comes to something as personal as our faith and the things we have observed God doing in our lives, we look for a more difficult explanation.

There have been countless times in my life where the very tangible and real thing that happened was an unmistakable act of my Father. The evidence is not something I hold, it is my own faith itself.  I will receive no more assurances than that. So why is it that I have considered my faith to be less reliable than any of my other senses?

This week I remind you that you should learn to rely on all of your senses. Read and be knowledgeable, listen and learn. However, when it comes to your faith about the things and works that God has performed in your own life, trust in Him and the rely on the faith that He built in you. It is the evidence of the things you are hoping for and things that are unseen.