April 16, 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)
“Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” (Revelation 16.15)
TODAY’S REFLECTION ON GOD’S WORD:
Whether it was the disciple who was surprised by the raiding party from the Temple as he slept in the Garden while Jesus was praying and then arrested or the five of ten foolish maidens who fell asleep with their lamps at full wick and thus exhausting all their oil and were surprised by the announcement of the Bridegroom’s arrival or the “kings from the east” who were surprised when the demonic frogs came croaking at the behest of the sixth of seven angels who each held a bowl of judgment in their hands- the warning is clear. What is that warning? It is nothing less than be prepared and dressed for the moment of the King’s coming, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Prince of Peace, the Holy Bridegroom, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father upon whose shoulders the governance of the world has rested. And lest we forget, such “clothing” did not intimate outward apparel but spiritual covering. We are well aware of the warning given by Jesus in Matthew 24.43 – “The Son of Man will come like a thief in the night” which was reiterated by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5.2 that stands alongside of the warning by Jesus as recorded in John 10.10, “The enemy comes with one purpose in mind: to steal, kill and destroy.” We must not be confused. Jesus is not saying He comes as a thief but in the manner of a thief. He does not come with the purpose of stealing, killing or destroying those rich in the spirit but comes in a manner which mimmicks that of a thief who does. And we must pay close attention to what Jesus said to those who were listening. In the days before alarm systems and ADT, the people had to be on the alert for intruders. The Old Testament version of this is “the watchman set on the wall.” The watchman is purposed with keeping an eye for the enemy approaching regardless of the hour. It is his singular calling and his life depends on it. Reading from Ezekiel 33, we hear “if the watchman sees the sword coming and warns the people with the blast of the ram’s horn but the people ignore it and are taken in life or death by the enemy, then judgment is on their head because they heard and did not obey. But, if the watchman sees the sword and does not sound the alarm but instead hides for fear of his life being taken, then sadly those whom he represented may be taken in life and in death but I will spare them by requiring the blood of the watchman who sought only to save Himself.” But, God’s full intention is not to take pleasure in taking the life of any who are wicked. And He does not. This is why He sent prophets and watchmen before the people to announce to them that the enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy.” He cannot make them choose to hear and obey. But, He will not be accused of failing to sound the warning and issue the call to repentance. God desires His people live, thrive and come alive. This is the promise for those who put on the whole armor of God.
Those who do so are equipped in their mind, heart, soul and body to withstand the arrival of the enemy who infiltrates the community and the community of faith. They are not only able to withstand the intrusion but they will fend them off with words of warning, declarations of truth and by standing firm on the rock which cannot be moved. Indeed, by faith as was Peter, they become one in and of the Rock on which the wise build their “house.” That house is not just a call to literal good building practices but represents spiritual building up of the tabernacle of one’s body and life in which the Holy Spirit is intended to dwell. What sage advice from James, the brother of Jesus who said, “Rebuke the devil, resist his advance; he will flee.” (James 4.7) This is the parameter of our “house” building. We are to have the windows and doors of our heart, mind, body and soul protected with righteous covering and spiritual adornment. Let us take full inventory of “all our houses” to see if we are truly prepared and at the ready. It is the calling of the faithful, intended to be the members of the Body of Christ, to protect and serve the community in which they dwell beginning in their own lives, then their own homes, then their neighborhoods, then their community of faith, then their communities, then their regions, then their nations and so on until the whole world is bounded by “the way, the truth and the life” in conjuction with “faith, hope and love.” It is a daunting task but as disciples were are called to be the “watchman.” And please do not get caught up in the genderism of that language. We are called each to be alert, on guard, en garde, at the ready, being able and fully clothed in the battle of truth as in the battle for truth.
I would remind you, mighty ones of God, as I remind myself, that the critical element of our preparedness is prayer. Paul adds this to his description of putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6.18) “Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints.” From our casual prayer to our causal prayer, from our prayer for daily bread to our prayer to break bread, from our prayer of praise to our prayer of repentance, from our prayer of worship to our prayer of service- we must pray on the offense and defense of God’s Word in the arena of battle against the Enemy who lies. He lies in his heart, in his mouth, in his prowling. He lies in wait roaring with bravado to strike fear into the hearts of the innocent and the guilty to drive them straight into the nets used for gathering and carrying away into the pits of Hell. But, when we hear that roar, we are called to sound the trumpet of the Lord. Time will seem to stand still. Glory will appear and reveal the dark truth for what it is. Like a city set on a hill, truth cannot be hidden nor those who dwell in spirit and in truth. We must not hide the light of faith. We must be reflective of the glory of the Lord saying “Our Lord nears” and “Our Lord saves.” As with the words of a beloved hymn “When trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more; when the morning breaks eternal bright and fair; when the called of earth shall gather on that other shore, when the role is called up yonder- I will be there.” I pray you will be there to because of your preparedness, your readiness and your willingness to be “one of that number.”
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
O God, You have clothed us and fitted us to be Your people in the world. From the provision of sheep skins in the Garden to cover our “shame” to the blessing of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room to declare Your “claim,” we are ready to enter into the world and let Your Will not ours be known. May it be so today in Jesus’ name. AMEN.