August 1, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord; His mighty power is with us. Put on the full armor of God. In doing so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Rather, it is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God. When the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground; and after you have done everything, you will be able to stand.” (Ephesians 6.10-13)
Remember in school when we struggled with those words which sounded the same but were spelled differently, such as “there, their and they’re”? Or “too, to, two”? And then there were words spelled the same but pronounced differently based on their usage, such as produce (noun) and produce (verb). Have you noticed that in Paul’s encouragement and warning to the community in faith of Ephesus that the word “stand” is used three times in the verses 10-13 of chapter 6?
- “Take your stand against.” This is the call to awareness that there is an enemy in the world that must be confronted. It is a literal enemy whose “soul” purpose is to remove believers from the human community. As Paul speaks to this reality, he had to be thinking of his life before the Jesus-transformation on the Damascus road. He had committed himself with the full backing of the Sanhedrin and Temple leadership to purge Israel of the followers of “The Way,” which the community of faith centered on living a Christ-like life was called. He literally went into Messianic synagogues and communities outside of Jerusalem to arrest, prosecute and persecute Christ followers. He was a man to be feared. There was no one who stood against him. There was no one willing to go “toe to toe” and “face to face” with Saul of Tarsus except the Resurrected Jesus. Further as “take a stand against,” there was the intention to declare the purpose of debate in which a differing opinion would be offered. This “taking a stand” was in defending the faith by the Word of God. Paul did this often in the various courts of law where he was tried for disturbing the peace of a community with controversial teachings that some of the people vehemently disagreed with. At times, riots would take place as the conversations became heated. He also stood on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece, and used the opportunity afforded him by their “unknown god” statue base, to speak of the One True God revealed in Jesus Christ. He would promote “when speaking with a Roman speak as a Roman, if a Greek then speak as a Greek, etc.” He was not promoting adopting their lifestyle but their vocabulary and understanding their mindset so as to speak to them transformatively about the gospel. Christ followers had to be ready to present the gospel and defend it with the very Word of God.
- “Stand your ground” is also mentioned. The power of being “clothed in righteousness” showed a rootedness into the solid rock of faith to withstand the approach and encroachment of the enemy to overtake the place and space of the believer. There comes a time when advancement against the enemy becomes difficult and retreat is not an option. That is the time when a stake must be driven into the ground to which we are tethered and say “this is a line you will not cross.” In the movie “Facing the Giants,” the coach taught his defense about stone walls and the heart of champions. Championships are said to be more often won by a good defense. That means there is no backing up and no backing down. The time came in Jesus’ ministry when that “stake was driven into the ground” as the battle bore the sense of finality. While the Devil may still prowl about as a roaring lion seeking to devour its prey of innocent souls (they are innocent until proven guilty in the court of God’s Word), his days were numbered no differently than the hairs on all our heads. The cross put to an end the threat of eternal death for the believer and the power of Hell could not prevail against it. Even when God gave Satan permission to test Job’s faith it was with a caveat of “you cannot touch his soul.” You may be able to push on God but you cannot push past Him.
- “You will be able to stand.” In many of our battles, we are driven to our knees and laid out on the field of conflict. We are battle weary and fighting for life. Jesus on the cross could not kneel because He was affixed by iron spikes driven into His feet, one on top of the other, and into His wrists between the radius and the ulna. He sagged. The weight of His body as it was drained of blood and energy pulled Him down as the “gravity” of the situation took its full effect. He would push up to free His fluid-filling lungs to take a breath and speak until He couldn’t. With His last breath He surrendered only to God. He declared forgiveness and compassion and then His trust in God. But, in so doing, He was able then, by the power of resurrection, to stand. He would be judged before God as worthy. He would be blessed with the life of freedom that no man or dark force could take from Him. It was a declaration for all those who believed in Him that they would be able to do the same on the Last Day. When the Queen of England performs the ceremony of knighthood, the one honored kneels before her as in continuing service to the Crown. But, the time comes, when she has fully executed her duty that she will declare “Rise and take your stand with those who have gone before you.” That day will come when “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is the Lord.” But, only those who gave themselves in taking a stand for the gospel and the King of kings will hear “Well, done, My good and faithful servant, rise and stand, receive the blessing of Heaven which is yours.” What will be said of those who feigned allegiance and stood against the call of God in their lives? It will be said “I know you not, depart from Me.” With that they will be sent into the place of shadows where their souls will burn with an unquenchable fire of desiring that which they forsook in order to stand for themselves as the ultimate focus of attention.
Mighty ones of God, followers of the Way of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, God’s only begotten Son, we must put on the clothes of righteousness which have been prepared for and presented to us. We must stand with confidence knowing that our inward parts are protected with the integrity of God’s Holy Spirit. We must bind ourselves together in Christian service to advance into the world and let evil know there is a circle of faith, hope and love which cannot be violated. They may cross over the line but only if they truly desire to become one with us as we are one with God in Jesus Christ. The offer still “stands” as we stand for Him, stand against the Enemy, stand with the Word and stand forever in the blessing of life which cannot be taken away.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Lord God, we take our stand with You. We make our choice that regardless of the circumstances which may stand against us, we stand in faith and trust. We believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and there is no other. We clothe ourselves with the blessings of Your Word in all its manifestation to be a mighty army on the move to confront the enemy and declare liberty to those who are held captive. We clothe ourselves as members of the royal priesthood of all believers and invoke Your presence in the midst of us. We do not call it down from Heaven but draw all attention to the reality that You are Immanuel, God with us now and forever in all the places where we stand, kneel and even lay down our lives. There is no greater love than this. It is with this love for You and one another we offer ourselves now in the name of Jesus. AMEN.