Take Your Stand

Ephesians 6

Friday, August 19, 2022

On several occasions, I have had the opportunity to witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The precision with which this exercise takes place is practically mesmerizing. But what I find even more fascinating are the tales that are told of when those on duty face extraordinary weather events and refuse to take shelter. They hold their ground. 

Paul concludes his letter to the Ephesians with more words of wisdom and encouragement. He reminds his readers that they will face the devil’s schemes and that they better be prepared. 

Preparation for battle takes many forms: from the physical training to acquiring the best equipment. But the most important thing is to have the mindset of a warrior. What Paul is telling the Ephesian church and you and I is that we HAVE to believe that God is who He says He is. We MUST take heart and have faith that He will do what He says He will do. We CANNOT have ‘Plan B’. We NEED to remain strong and determined regardless of the circumstances. 

The enemy will do whatever it takes to try to take us off course. We’ll be faced with trials and temptations; things that challenge our fortitude and things that might distract us from our purpose. Our reputations may be questioned; our relationships threatened; our resources depleted – but we can put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, and have our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. We can pick up the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit and choose to stand and face whatever comes our way. 

You are a mighty warrior of the Most High. It’s time to hold your ground and take a stand.

-Bethany Ligon

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What is the purpose of each piece of armor described in Ephesians 6?
  2. What do the devil’s attacks and schemes look like for you right now? What attacks have you already faced victoriously?
  3. Which piece do you more often forget to put on? What is the danger of going into battle without this piece of armor?

The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry

Luke Chapter Four

Luke 4 43 NIV (1).png

In Luke chapter four, we finally get to see the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  However, before we get there, Jesus spent forty days and forty nights in the wilderness by himself with no food.  He was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.  We are never told the purpose of the Spirit leading Jesus to the wilderness, but I imagine it served as a great time for Jesus to focus in on God all by himself before he began his earthly ministry.

 

While Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, the devil came to tempt Jesus.  Three times the devil tempted Jesus, but he had zero success.  To combat the temptation, Jesus responded each time with scripture (verses 4, 8 and 12).  Scripture offers us a great way to combat temptation, as Jesus demonstrated here.  Psalm 119:11 supports this notion, as it states, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

 

Whenever we are confronted with temptation, as we all are, a great way to resist and combat that temptation is by quoting scripture.  Now, this is only possible if you have scripture memorized in the first place.  This is a big reason why it is important to store God’s Word in our hearts.

 

After Jesus withstood the temptation of the devil in the wilderness, Jesus officially began his earthly ministry in his hometown of Nazareth.  He did not have quite the warm welcoming, as the Jews tried to throw him off of a cliff (Luke 4:29).  This was just the beginning of the Jews seeking to end and kill Jesus.  They were constantly taken back by Jesus’ bold claims that he makes.  In the end, the Jews send him to the Roman government to have him killed because Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (Matthew 26:54).  The Jews seldom got along with Jesus because they did not believe that he was the Christ, the Son of God.

 

Luke chapter four ends with Jesus telling us his purpose, as Jesus states, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent,” (Luke 4:43).  Jesus himself stated that his purpose was to preach the good news of the kingdom of God.  From the very beginning of his ministry, he preached all about the Kingdom.  The message of the kingdom was at the heart of Jesus’ ministry, and it should be at the heart of our ministry as well.

 

Kyle McClain

 

The Death of a King

Wednesday

Romans 5-8

There are a handful of ways to think about the meaning of the death of Jesus. From a Jewish point of view Jesus was killed because he was a false prophet. From a Roman point of view, he gathered a large following that was counter-cultural to Roman authority, so they executed him. Or if you’re a muslim, Jesus wasn’t killed at all on the cross. Almost all people recognize that Jesus actually did die, but the question is why? The New Testament has several different ways of understanding why Jesus died. These include, Jesus died to destroy the works of the devil, to satisfy God’s need for justice, to justify us apart from Torah or the law, and to give us eternal life. However, the most ubiquitous reason the New Testament gives as to why Jesus died, is that he died for our sins.

“Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins so that he might rescue us from this present evil age…” Gal.1.3-4

“…he bore our sins in his body on the cross…” I Pet. 2.24

“God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” – Rom. 5.8

“…when he had taken the cup and given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin’” – Matt. 26.27-28

The reason Jesus’ death is so significant is because it solves the problem of sin. Sin is a barrier between us and God, it is impossible for us to be in the presence of God because he is holy and perfect and we are not. Jesus’ death satisfies God’s need for justice. The cost of sin has been paid for by Jesus. So through Jesus we can have a renewed relationship with God through Jesus. Apart from Jesus, God sees us as worthy of wrath and death, he sees all our mistakes and rebellion. But in Jesus, he sees us being right before him and clean and pure. Because of Jesus we are able to be in the presence of God. Jesus’ death is the means by which we can enter the kingdom. Hope, forgiveness, contentedness, and so much more can be found when someone accepts the gift of Jesus’ death for them.

For someone to be restored to God and to be a part of the kingdom when it comes, they must accept Jesus’ death. Through Jesus’ death all can live.

-Jacob Rohrer-

 

 

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