April 4, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING:
“Therefore, put on the full armor of God. In so doing you will be able to stand your ground when the day of evil comes. After you have done everything you are able to in that day, you will be able to stand [before the throne of God with humble confidence.]” (Ephesians 6.13)
“And PRAY in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6.18)
TODAY’S REFLECTION ON GOD’S WORD:
So, I am proposing for the sake of these reflections on “put on the full armor of God” that we do so as befits a “prayer warrior.” That is a term many Christ followers have heard in the “evangelical movement of the 70s and 80s.” It is a term that you may still hear in Christian communities of faith among those who know that their battle is not against “flesh and blood” but against the spiritual manifestations of evil among rulers, authorities, leaders of principalities as well as those who cultivate the “dark arts” on earth as they have gleaned them from the utterance and teaching of the enemy of God. Let me draw a distinction, briefly, between God and Satan on this point alone. Satan can manipulate the “things of earth” in order to create an illusion of poverty and power that is enticingly deceptive. It is a poverty from which there is only one escape (and it is not an acceptance of it). It is a power which cannot satisfy (and it is never greater than dissatisfaction.) If you wonder if something is real or true or from God, then I invite you to evaluate it by those two posits. Why? Because it is the fruit of the “lying spirit” which the enemy breathes into those willing to entertain the possibility of a truth which can never be true. It stands opposed to the very ruach, the breath of God, which was Adam’s inspiration and Eve’s, too, as she was created from Adam, so that there would be life out of lifelessness. We get it, right? God took from the created resources of heaven and earth and formed it all together to bring about humankind- male and female. They were made in the very image and likeness of the Godhead: Father, Son and Spirit. They did not make themselves. They did not spring up by accident. And as the image of the Godhead, like the work of an artist who puts on canvas what the mind’s eye sees, they remained two dimensional. It was not until God breathed into them His very breath that they took on life and became living creatures. He spoke the Word of life over them and commanded the Word of life to awake with them. The Word was of God. The Word was with God. The Word came to dwell on earth among the peoples who existed so that they might come to know the real truth. That real truth is that “the darkness of the world will never be stronger than the light of the world.” Strange, not really strange, is it not that when God created the heavens and the earth and darkness covered over it all, the first thing God did was to declare “Let there be light.” God walked into the room of the universe and knew nothing good could come out of it until the “light of day” was turned on. Where scripture reflects “God said,” it means “the breath of God moved from the depth of His being like air from our lungs and proceeded from Him as it does across our tongue, gum, teeth and lips and makes a sound of meaning and purpose.” And God only speaks “the truth.” That truth is evaluated not by the things of this world but by His righteousness which abides within the realm of His Kingdom whether on earth or in Heaven. That which comes from the Enemy (whose purpose is to steal, kill and destroy) comes out of the darkness of his own heart. He will say whatever serves his purpose best. He has no desire to actually benefit us in any sense unless, of course, it promotes his own welfare and secures his own existence as an entity “equal to God.” As if there is anything of the sort. Even Jesus said, “Equality with God is not a thing to be grasped.” Okay, it was actually Paul who phrased Jesus’ understanding with those words. What Jesus told His disciples was that He was the Son of God and God was His Father. Together they shared a oneness of faith, hope and love which could not be separated regardless of any circumstance. How that “oneness” was maintained was in humble obedience and prayer. Jesus did nothing without first consulting His Father’s will and permission. This is why His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. They understood the power of prayer as evidenced among the disciples of John the Baptizer. But, John declared that “One greater than me has come into the world. I must decrease so that He will truly increase.” If Jesus was the increase, and He most certainly was, then learning how to pray from Him would be an increasingly powerful and resurgent prayer.
In times such as those in which we are living today, becoming prayer warriors who have put on the full armor of God to combat the evil that has decided to stand among us and against us with authority, dominion and permanence is essential. Jesus declared that prayers of faith being uttered by the faithful can move mountains, bring healing to our brokenness, speak wisdom to our confusion and lay out the truth as a vast plain with unending horizons. It can cause armies to flee as will the Devil when we rebuke him. But, do we rebuke him? Or do we just express our disgust? Do we exert authority over him or hope he just “goes away”? Do we inspire the truth in others or leave them to fend for themselves? Do we glorify God by our obedience even if it means laying our lives on the line or do we just take a “wait and see” attitude and hope God will do what is right by us? Mighty ones of God, we do not have the time to rally in prayer closets and keep our faith to ourselves. It is time to make the truth known among the nations as we have been commissioned by Christ Himself. The call to His discipleship is to put on the whole armor of God individually and corporately so that the Enemy who stands against us knows that we kneel only before God as we stand against the Enemy who refuses to kneel before God. Greater is He who is in us (having the very breath of God in us as having His Spirit upon us) than he who is in the world (who usurps the blessing of God’s spirit and taints it with the fruit of his self-will and self-promotion turning light to dark, truth to a lie, life into death and hope into despair.)
Now let me draw your attention to the connection of this reflection on “praying in the full armor of God” to that of the events of Holy Week being Passover leading to Easter. As we saw yesterday “the cleansing of the temple for the sake of restoring it to be God’s House of Prayer,” today we see that Jesus returned the following day to “speak,” to utter with the breath of God, and he shared with the disciples the evidence of faithfulness and fruitfulness with the lesson of the fig tree. The conclusion drawn by the evidence given (the fig tree responded to the Word of Jesus and withered to death) was “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Mighty ones of God, Jesus was putting on the finishing touches of making them His disciples with the covering and inspiration of being prayer warriors. Where would He find them after His death and resurrection? Yes, even in their sense of defeat and alienation, they were in the Upper Room praying (except for Thomas who was praying alone.) They were not in evidence at His crucifixion except for John (and perhaps Thomas from a distance, I think). But, wherever they were they were praying in fear and despair. They were wrestling with the truth they could not make sense of. But, together in remembrance of Him, they would be found open to the receiving of the Holy Spirit and would no longer be hidden like a candle under a bushel basket. They became like a city set on a hill, like the glowing Temple illuminated on Mount Zion for all the world to see. It is time to let God’s light so shine, mighty ones, and take to the world in prayer and praise as of the One and Only God whose One and Only Son is indeed Lord and Savior of all. LET! US! PRAY!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father, Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. AMEN.