Ephesians 6:10-17

Did you know that you’re in a battle every day of your life? The enemy’s goal is to weaken, deceive, and lead believers astray. God protects all who belong to Him, so wicked forces can never touch our salvation (1 Peter 1:3-5). But they can lead us into sin, cause discouragement, ruin our witness for Christ, and bring about other damage.

The main charge in today’s passage is “Stand firm,” and it’s mentioned three times (Eph. 6:11; Eph. 6:13-14). Paul says the purpose of the armor of God is to enable us to stand our ground in the battle, and his list of armor would not be complete without the footwear mentioned in verse 15. The soles of a Roman soldier’s sandals were studded with iron hobnails, which enabled him to stand his ground against an enemy assault. 

Today our anchoring footwear is faith in the gospel, which not only grants us peace with the heavenly Father but also makes us Satan’s adversaries. So plant your feet and anchor yourself on a solid foundation of faith. When we don’t avail ourselves of the protection provided through Christ, we’re more likely to give way in the fight and yield to Satan’s temptations. 

In Touch

No Lone Rangers

Before sinners needed saving or a broken world needed restoring, God asserted that something wasn’t right: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Who could have expected such an early plot twist? He’d created a beautiful universe, yet something was missing.

Eternally existing as the Trinity, God had always enjoyed relationship as Father, Son, and Spirit. Since Adam was his image-bearer, he was made to have relationships too. Our longing for family and friendship isn’t the result of the fall—it’s the result of God’s original plan.

We need community. When we don’t have it, we’ll feel an emptiness, a longing, a craving, one that isn’t rooted in discontentment but in our very design. Just like God created us to require oxygen and water and food to live, he’s created us to need one another. It is not good that man should be alone, and it never was. So God made the church.

Individual Salvation, Corporate Citizenship

In Western culture, the high regard for autonomy and obsession with individualism has come at a cost: community. This lack of community (coupled with other factors) has contributed to rising loneliness, affecting our physical and mental well-being. In the church, it’s affecting our spiritual health too.

Just like God created us to require oxygen and water and food to live, he’s created us to need one another.

When cultural Christianity was the norm, many who grew up in or around church inherited a false assurance of salvation. Mounting concerns over this problem harkened a new focus on personal relationships with Jesus. This wasn’t entirely ill-founded. God loves us as individuals and calls us as individuals to follow him. Going to church doesn’t save you. Having Christian parents doesn’t save you. Living in the Bible Belt doesn’t save you. Jesus does, indeed, require personal allegiance.

However, well-intentioned efforts to emphasize the importance of a personal relationship with God have inadvertently diminished the importance of our corporate relationship. It doesn’t end with just “Jesus and me.” God has saved us individually to become a people:

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Pet. 2:9–10)

When we come to faith in Christ, we obtain citizenship in God’s kingdom. We aren’t lone rangers; we are indelibly linked to God’s people. If we imagine that life is just about “Jesus and me,” we won’t function as faithful citizens.

On Mission Together

God has set apart his church as a holy nation. One that exists to worship and proclaim the Lord. One that operates with righteousness and justice, where the prosperous share with the poor and the powerful protect the weak. One where individuals work for the common good, more passionate about corporate flourishing than selfish gain. A place where the inhabitants don’t only consider their own interests, but “decide never to put a stumbling block” and to “pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding” (Rom. 14:13, 19). A place overflowing with truth and grace and love.

If we imagine that life is just about ‘Jesus and me,’ we won’t function as faithful citizens.

Surrounding this holy nation, a war rages. So while we await the return of our King, we arm ourselves for battle. We watch out for each other and protect one another from the flaming darts of the Evil One. Paul urges us to patiently admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, and help the weak (1 Thess. 5:14).

We carry out the mission together, inviting others to join the kingdom that will not be shaken. When enemies are in our midst—seeking to deceive and dismantle the kingdom—we drive them out. And when the battle seems bleak and our hope wavers, we remind each other that God has already won.

Growing in Holiness and Wholeness

Oh, what a lonely road it would be if Christianity was only about our individual relationships with God! Life is full of trials and tribulations. Jesus warned that we’ll be hated and scorned for following him.

Knowing that we’re not alone is profoundly comforting. We aren’t the first Christians to suffer for his name, and we won’t be the last. We are citizens who work together, soldiers who battle together, and elect exiles who joyfully await a better place. Together we’re called to fight the good fight of faith. Together we’re called to follow our King.

But since we’re still sinners who often fail to live this calling out, life in community is messy. It rarely seems like a sweet taste of heaven and can be downright painful at times. But as we live according to our identity in our local church, we will grow in both holiness and wholeness. We won’t be alone, and it will be very good.

A. DiMarcangelo

As Wisdom Grows, So Will You

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:5-6 CSB

Where will you find wisdom today? Will you seek it from God or from the world? As a thoughtful person living in a society that is filled with temptations and distractions, you know the world’s brand of “wisdom” is everywhere—and it is dangerous. You live in a world where it’s all too easy to stray far from the ultimate source of wisdom: God and His holy Word.

When you commit yourself to getting to know God more through His Word and following His ways—you will become wise…in time. God will bring the growth as you seek His heart. As a way of understanding God and His plan for your life, study His Word and learn how to live. When you do, you will accumulate a storehouse of wisdom that will enrich your life and the lives of your family members, your friends, and the world around you.

As Wisdom Grows, So Will Your Calling and His Enabling

Those whom God calls to a specific task, He always enables. The Lord knows when we have been faithful, and He gives us more—and His “more” will always stretch us. We would probably find it easier to continue being faithful right where we already are than go to the next level in our walk with God, but then we would stop growing. So God puts us in places of greater service than we have ever had before.

But along with every challenging call comes God’s perfect enabling. He is prepared to meet every need we will face as we step out in obedience and faith. He will grant us the strength we need to match every demand. He will bestow the wisdom we need to navigate every decision.

It is an awesome experience to realize that Almighty God is personally equipping you to serve Him. If God is calling you to a new assignment, be encouraged—you are about to experience His empowerment like never before.

Harvest House

Waiting Is Not Passive

To be human is to suffer. This is true for Christians as well. Not only do we suffer the normal pains and griefs common to all people, but Jesus promised that we might also suffer because of our allegiance to Him (John 15:18). Jesus did not promise to take our sufferings away in this life. Author George MacDonald put it this way: “The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His.”

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.Psalm 130:5

Psalm 130 opens with the anguished cry, “Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD” (v. 1). The depths described here by the Psalmist are any place that feels desperate. The Psalmist does not try to hide his suffering or pretend it is not happening. Instead, he accepts its reality while also embracing the reality of God. In his time of need, he turns to God and asks for mercy (v. 2).

The Psalmist recognizes that some suffering is the result of sin. Since all have sinned, God would be justified in allowing suffering to be our primary experience both in this life and the next. But the Psalmist knows something else about God. God delights to forgive (v. 4). God made a way for people to be forgiven through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. When this psalm was written, the cross was a future event. However, the sacrificial system pointed to it.

Sometimes when we are suffering, we may wonder, “What can we do?” The Psalmist tells us there is something we can do—wait (Ps. 130:5–6). Waiting is not a passive response; it is an expression of hope in God. We wait while recognizing that God is in control.

Whatever you are waiting for, whatever situation you find yourself in, know that God is on the throne. You can be confident, “for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption” (Ps. 130:7).

R. Cook

Your Prayer Discipline

As you begin your time with God, pause for a few moments and allow yourself to grow still. Let go of any distracting thoughts. Take several slow, deep breaths. Become aware of the great love God has for you.

1 Peter 1:15-16 But, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, “Be holy because I [am] holy.”

In the Bible, to be holy means to be set apart for God. We are called to be holy, to live and act in such a way that those who come in contact with us will catch a glimmer of the presence of God. No small task, but full of eternal rewards.

(Pray, using these words or your own.)

Holy God, help me to conduct myself today so that the world may catch a glimmer of your presence.

Look in Front of You

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, “Destroy them!” —DEUTERONOMY 33:27

Are the best days of your life in front of you? Our outlook on life—and our answer to that question—can change with time. When we’re younger, we look ahead. Once we’ve grown older, we yearn for the past. But when we walk with God, whatever our age, the best is yet to come!

Over the course of his long life, Moses witnessed the amazing things God did, many of which happened when he was no longer young. Moses was eighty when he confronted Pharaoh and saw God miraculously set His people free from slavery (Exodus 3–13). Moses saw the Red Sea part, saw manna fall from heaven, and even spoke with God “face to face” (14:21; 16:4; 33:11).

Moses lived expectantly, looking ahead to what God would do (Hebrews 11:24–27). Even when he was one hundred twenty years old, he understood that his life with God was just getting started and that he would never see an end to God’s greatness and love.

Regardless of our age, God’s “everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27) faithfully carry us securely through each new day.

J. Banks

The Bush Will Burn till You Turn

“And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt” (Exodus 3:3).

“Turn,” by definition means “an act of changing or reversing position or posture.”

The burning bush caused Moses to turn. The bush burning in the desert was usual, but a bush not being consumed was unusual. If the bush had burned in any way, Moses would have continued his day and his duties as usual. Likewise, God has to keep some bushes aflame in our path to get us to turn. When we turn, God supernaturally appears, speaks audibly, and specially assigns.

Like Moses, God has something for us to do. There is a message for us to enunciate, a ministry for us to embrace, and a mission for us to execute. Therefore, God sets a bush on fire for us to see Him, to seek Him, and to serve Him. The fire in the Word, the flame in the work, and the furnace in the witness will not go out.

The bush in the life of the believer is going to burn until you turn! So, “turn aside and see this great sight.”

Where Does the Money Go?

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house” (Malachi 3:10).

One of the questions asked in Church that plays a great factor in giving is, “Where does the money go?” Now, to answer the question, the money goes to the Pastor, the Programs, the Property, and the Poor. Let me continue with the Programs.

The programs include the Equipping of Members. Members must be made aware of the fact that each believer has a specific calling from God on his or her life and a specific function to fulfill within the Church body. Paul wrote, “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him” (1 Corinthians 12:18).

None of us are all we should be or could be. We are all in a developing stage. Some things about us have to be purged, proved, polished, and perfected. During this process, the leader walks beside them, works with them, and watches over them as they discover, decide, develop, and do their duty.

The preached messages, the purchased manuals, the prepared material, the provided ministries, and the personal meetings help believers to find, fill, fit, and fulfill their God-given ministries. That is where the money goes!

A Life of Constant Anticipation

[Abraham] did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
ROMANS 4:20–22

The city where I live is known for one of the best fireworks shows on the planet. It’s no secret either. People from all over fly into San Diego to witness the spectacle. The city loads four barges down with munitions, parks them in different parts of the bay, then synchronizes the launch with music as hundreds of thousands of people assemble to watch an hour of explosions. Thousands of fireworks are put on display. It’s a pyromaniac’s dream. The question isn’t whether the show will burn your retinas a little bit but if you’ll get there early enough to get a parking spot and a good seat.
One year, instead of a perfect symphony of pyrotechnics and patriotism over the course of an hour, someone made a mistake and hit the wrong button. Every single firework went off at once. It was all over within thirty seconds. It was nine o’clock at night, but the sky was as bright as noon for a brief moment as thousands of fireworks all exploded on the decks of the barges. It was awesome! More than a few people in San Diego lost their eyebrows that night. The people with the best view were the dudes who pushed the button. Sure, they lost their jobs, but I bet they thought it was worth it.

When we’re really walking with Jesus, our lives look just as expectant as people in San Diego do now every Fourth of July. There’s no question that something awesome is going to happen. It might be a big success or an epic fail; the only question is how close you’ll be when all the fireworks go off.

Live a life of constant anticipation. Is it possible your big idea will blow up? You bet. Do it anyway. Trusting Jesus is like watching a lit fuse; it’s only a matter of time before He’s going to do awesome things in your life. Quit playing it safe. Press the button.

B. Goff

The Year of Jubilee

… to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD (Luke 4:18-19).

The shadow of the cross was over Jesus’ heart as He read these words from Isaiah in His own synagogue in Nazareth. He knew that He was to fulfill that prophecy in His own suffering and death.

The last sentence of the prophecy is easily misunderstood. “The acceptable year of the Lord” also meant the Year of Jubilee. Every 50 years, according to the ancient Hebrew custom, debts were canceled, prison terms were terminated, land holdings went back to the original owners, and people forgave the resentments held through the years.

The cross makes every year the Jubilee Year. Jesus’ death cancels our sin and gives us the freedom to be forgiving. This is the acceptable year of the Lord for us. What if we committed this whole year to be one in which we set people free by loving them unconditionally and forgiving them unreservedly? That can happen through us only if it happens to us. Is there any memory, unforgiven hurt, or unrelinquished hostility still keeping you in a prison of incrimination?

There are three steps to a Jubilee Year: 1) accept forgiveness; 2) ask for forgiveness from any person you’ve hurt or harmed; 3) offer forgiveness to those who have misused or misunderstood you. Forgiveness is the one gift our Lord offers that we can’t have unless we give it away.

Make a list of people who need your forgiveness. What is the Lord telling you to say and then be to them to assure them that they are forgiven? But don’t wait. Your Jubilee Year starts today. Tomorrow may be too late!

Today I will live as a forgiven, forgiving person.

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