Protection

www.bible.com/1713/isa.54.17.csb

I am reminded of the monsters going from business to business demanding protection money, so that something bad doesn’t happen to the shop owner or his family. Usually, this payment was protection from the “protectors” who threw in a “or else” statement at the end of their offer. The price of protection was usually high enough to make it a significant part of doing business in certain parts of town.

While the God of Heaven offers protection, it’s not like this. His protection comes at a cost, but it is devotion and obedience to His Word, whatever that costs. His protection is positive, but also comes with an “or else” at the end, followed by a description of calamity and destruction at the hands of others. God offers real protection from the storms of life. But remember that God takes the long view. He sees exactly in the tempering you need to fulfill His purpose.

Yeah, I know His protection won’t feel very protective sometimes. Sometimes you will wish you could pay protection from the mob bosses and it might be easier. But God is not working to protect you from harm. He is working to protect you from Hell. You see it is your eternal soul, made in the image of God that He is working to salvage from sin and restore to righteousness. He loves you and works from that eternal perspective.

There is no weapon formed against you that will hurt your soul. There is no accusation in any earthly court that applies to eternity. God is the last judge that matters. And God will see to it that your eternity is secure.

That said, is there no hope for this life? Should all our hope be focused on eternity that we cannot see until our eyes close in death? Lest you think faith in Jesus is a death cult, remember that the Lord delights to give you what your heart desires. He loves giving good gifts to His children and He protects you in His purposes. If you are working according to His will, He sees that you succeed. He is as much God of this life as the next. God loves you, and He wants you to experience real joy (not merely happiness). He will bless you with family or friends or spouse or children or any number of good relationships as long as you seek to do His will.

Case in point. 26 years ago I met the woman who would be my wife. But t was not by accident. I was to work a week of camp as a counselor at a Christian Camp as part of my internship to become a minister. I really did not want to go, because I’m not a big fan of camp. But, it was something I was required to do, so I did it. If the Lord was calling me to ministry, He was calling me to do this week of camp. I left my comfort zone, and though I had been earnestly praying for her, didn’t expect to meet her for the first time working the same camp as a counselor. We’ve now been married 24 years and have four amazing children. Why? Because the Lord delights to give us joy, but especially as we work out His will.

I want to encourage you today to seek His will in your life. Make His Word and work a daily part of your walk. Who knows. You might find the love of your life.

God bless!

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Armor

www.bible.com/72/eph.6.11.hcsb

We are soft and squishy. The artisans of war and conflict have known this for centuries. We tend to bleed easily. And so it became necessary to cover ourselves, first with clothing, leather and so forth, and then with more sturdy materials, like tin, bronze and iron. Today there is steel, Kevlar and carbon-fiber meshes. But the game and the purpose is still the same, to protect the softness and vulnerability that is our flesh.

So how does this translate into the spiritual realm? Does this mean that our souls are also soft and squishy, and that they too can be pierced? The armor we are called to wear was forged by no man. It is the armor of God. God is both smith and bearer of this armor, and He offers it to us for our protection, for we are His children, and His soldiers. We bear His armor. We march for Him.

But this armor, if you notice, is not for marching. It is for standing. This armor becomes for us an edifice, a fortress of refuge that protects us from the darts of the devil. This armor is composed not of steel and leather, but of faith, truth, and the gospel. Our very fragile soul is protected by the truth that has saved us. So that the true weapons of the enemy are falsehood and deceit. Hmmm.

Something to think about on this Sunday morning. God bless you today!

(By the way, illustration is not mine, I am borrowing it for illustration. If this is your artwork, please comment)

Armored for October

As we prepare for the festival the last Sunday of the month, it is high time we get ready with our costume. My kids start to get excited around the first of June talking about costumes for Halloween. One always wants to be a princess, and another a Jedi. So they start planning and trying on different pieces until the costume is just right. The costume just isn’t complete until all the pieces are applied. A princess needs a gown, a wand, and a tiara, along with gloves, shoes, makeup and hairstyle. A Jedi needs a robe, a lightsaber, the right shoes, and a determined attitude. It started to make me wonder what kind of costume a Christian should wear. What would be a distinctive costume for a Christian?

So much of what makes us different are concepts and ideas. We can’t exactly “wear” our theology or ethics on our sleeves. But after looking at those short lists above, maybe you were reminded of something. There is a list in the Bible similar to the costumes above, with sword, helmet, breastplate, sandals, shield and belt. These are the garb and armaments of a Roman soldier of Paul’s time, and we find this list in his letter to the Church of Ephesus. It is a letter written while Paul is in prison, guarded by a soldier at all times. But he takes occasion to immortalize the costume of the soldier into a Christian’s suit of armor.

When we look at Ephesians 6:14-18, we see “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (ESV)

I want to encourage you to take up the “costume” of the Christian, so that you can stand up to the powers of darkness that threaten every one of us.