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Archive for March, 2013

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Face it, we mess up a great deal; people mess up a lot. And when we mess up or someone else who misjudges or didn’t consider others before themself at a moment, which affects us… We find it hard to forgive them if it hurts us. Jesus and his disciples had this situation come up many times, and with Easter just around the corner, Jesus himself forgave us for this wrongs we did; one being when we crucified him on the cross.
Now, in one situation, “…Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?'” (Matthew 18:21 NIV). Peter poses a good question, because we all can admit that forgiving (and apologizing) is hard; as it requires a change of heart and mind, and people tire of it (forgiving) when people wrong them a lot (an example of a character in this senario would be a sibling). So what should we do when people hurt us? Forgive them, right? Yeah, but people, including myself, go by a little saying, three strikes, you’re out. seems appropriate, right? Three chances, then they are out. Peter asks of we should forgive people up to seven times. Well “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times,'” (Matthew 18:22 NIV). “Seventy-seven times” means seventy time seven. If you do the easy math that’s four hundred ninety times. What Jesus is basically saying is “always forgive” there’s no time limit to how many times we should forgive.
Think of this: what if God hasn’t sent his son to die on the cross to save us from our sins? All I can imagine is a war-torn hell as our world. If God had not forgiven us and sent his son, were we’d be is inconceivable. So the next time someone hurts you physically or emotionally and they apologize (or not, reguardless) always forgive them. It’s what Jesus did for us. We are in his debt, here’s to helping us make up for what we never could accomplish. With Easter coming around the corner, too think of how Jesus died a ravaging and painful death so that we could have eternity with him; of how he forgave us for everything we did wrong; he loved us so very much to do something like that… To die a death unknown to us.

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A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 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.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

– Ephesians 6:10-20 (NIV)

We live in a time of war, not just physically like with the Iraq or Afghanistan war, but also spiritually. So many Christians lose faith because the Devil is able to creep his way in and take out, we must, in order to fight him off, put on the armor of God. There are four points in these ten verses. The first being the armor of God (10-12). The “full armor of God” is referring to the Psalm and Isaiah soldier; Ps. 59:17. It is only with the armor of God that we can defend against the Devil. When we try to do it ourselves it doesn’t work out so well and we end up losing the battle and seriously wounded. In verse twelve it says: “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.” It’s true. We are not fighting beings with flesh-and-blood, we are fighting dark forces; dark spirits that would love to ruin our lives and make sure we never see the light of Christ. In this day and age our modern war technology is amazing and deathly accurate, but it’s useless when fighting a war that one cannot see physically. We must turn to “old-world technology” and less advanced ways; we must put on the armor of God and arm ourselves with his word and prayer.

In the second point, the passage talks about the specific parts of the armor of God (13-17). Each part of the armor blocks major places we are vulnerable and replaces those weaknesses with God’s strength. There’s the belt of truth – for flesh loves to deceive and lie. The body armor of righteousness, to protect our hearts and keep them pure with good morals, for flesh likes to corrupt the good. The shoes of peace, so that we may be swift and well in sharing with others about God’s love and spiritual peace. The shield of faith is there to stop the arrows of the dark side (Devil) and keep them from burning our souls and turning them to ashes. The helmet of salvation, to protect our head so that we can make right choices and acknowledge our salvation and surrender in Christ. Finally, there’s the sword of the Spirit, which we use to cut down and vanquish the enemy and turn others to God, for the sword of the Spirit is God’s word; the Bible.

In the third point, I want to emphasize of blocking and extinguishing the Devil’s fire (16-17). When we block his fire, we don’t want to just bounce it off and let it burn elsewhere, when we block it, we need to them charge and suffocate it so that it cannot burn in the place it seeks to wreak havoc and destruction. To put that fire out we need to use God’s word, as well as prayer,  and speak the words of truth and justice. God’s word is like rain to the Devil’s fire – it rains till it’s out. Arming ourselves with verses for every occasion will prove us well, even if it seems like a waste of time at first, it’s not. At all. You’ll be thankful one day that you sat down, or while on a business trip, or on the school bus you looked at one verse and memorized it, adding it to your permanent memory bank, for you’ll be able to think and treasure each verse.

In the final point, it’s using prayer and the word of God in this spiritual battlefield – warfare if you will. We are told to pray at all times and on every occasion. At first it seems absurd, but once one does it enough, it becomes a part of life and we grow in our faith; stronger in it. Prayer is one of the biggest connections we have to our heavenly Father – it’s our way of communication to Him. When our connection isn’t strong, then our relationship with Him isn’t as strong as it could be. It’s like if you didn’t talk to your father often, your relationship would be poor and you wouldn’t trust him as much, and when you needed help, he wouldn’t understand well, because your communication was lacking. Of course God knows your every thought and feeling, but he loves when we talk to him and let out our frustration and troubles. We need to pray, too for each other. We are all in the battlefield – at school, our homes, or out on the mission field. We need to ask God to give us the wisdom and the words to speak to share and spread His word and the good news about Him. Even when we’re in chains (spiritually or literally), we need to still be bold and share. His word is like a wild fire – once it catches it spreads fast.

In conclusion, we need to though, understand that faith does not protect us, but it seeks to find a protector – God. To me, my faith is like a privilege. Jesus did not have to die to save us from certain spiritual death. He did not have to create us. He did not have to share about His wonders and amazing love and forgiveness. I am so glad that He did do those things… and more, much more. We cannot thank him enough. Reason alone will never figure out this world. We need the word of God to discern things in this world for us.

Some corresponding passages are Ephesians 4:1, which is one of the main points in this passage – it’s part of its context. Ephesians 4:44 also corresponds to this passage – it talks about putting on a new self, putting on these new weapons, and bracing to go out and share the Faith. In Psalm 88 it talks about wrestling with God, which is and can be a part of the spiritual warfare we endeavor and have to conquer with putting up a white flag and surrendering ourselves to God. Hebrews 12:1-3  talks about God and how He promises to bring differentiation to our lives because he loves us. Psalm 18 is about how we need to be trusting in God at all times, it talks of how there are perils, it seems, and how God is our solid foundation – a foundation that is never shaken or broken. Romans 13:8-12 is a great parallel to this passage, vs. 8 talks how we own no one anything, except loving each other, 10b talks how love is fulfilling, and vs. 12 talks about casting off darkness and putting on armor of light.

A Few Reflection Questions:

    1. How does this fit in with everyday life?
    2. Verse 10 is a continuation of verse 9, it is about family, work, etc. How does spiritual warfare play out in these places?
    3. In one of the corresponding passages, Romans 13:8-12, verse 8 and 10b talk about how we owe no one anything, except loving each other and how love is fulfilling. How do you think you could apply these to your lifestyle and seeing how true love is fulfilling?

Love moves towards people – it does not pull away.

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