“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”
–Ephesians 6:13 (NLT)
Have you ever thought about turning points in your life? They can pop up at unexpected times, and for all different reasons. Some examples of turning points might be financial ups and downs which cause your life to take a different path, or that visit to the doctor who says you have to make some changes in your life.
One of my turning points came when I was a child, and I went to work with my dad. But it recently became real to me in a whole new way, and I would like to share that story with you because, unlike the turning points I have listed above, this one had eternal consequences.
I just got home from a men’s breakfast at my church. Something the main speaker said at this breakfast has caused me to ponder some things. It has made me say, “thank you, Father, for the privilege of taking Your Son to work every day.” But doing this isn’t always in my comfort zone, so I came up with this mnemonic device.
Because of Portable Document Format, we are all familiar with the initials PDF. But I am using these letters in another way.
Here, the letter P stands for Pray. I have learned that being a faithful disciple means drawing on Him for strength and boldness wherever life’s road takes me. Scripture says that Jesus Himself had to draw on His Father’s power by getting up early in the morning, or spending all night in prayer for the day ahead.
So if Jesus had to do that, I imagine that should tell me something as well, right? Sadly, it often doesn’t, and I have to confess that I think more about popularity than pleasing God. I have found, in this light, that taking God’s Son to my workplace, wherever that may be, becomes a chore rather than a chalenge.
Let me tell you how spending more time with God has been a real hurdle in my life. Also, allow me to tell you about some of the benefits of frequent prayer.
I became a Christian when I was 17, and although a lot of things changed, some things kept giving me trouble as far as my walk with God was concerned. For example, television was my weakness, and it monopolized my time. If I had a prayer life at all, it was subservient to the TV guide. But the real problem came because I didn’t make a decision, in advance, to control my prayer life.
I invite you to join me if you have a similar problem. Is something stealing your time or money, and keeping prayer from becoming a more integral part of your life? If all of us who worship the name of Christ really took Him with us wherever we went by putting Him first in prayer, new doors would open, and the world would be a very different place.
But giving Him priority in our lives comes back to the idea of planning in advance, or making a decision. So that is what the letter D in our acronym stands for.
The idea of making decisions was the second turning point in my life, and I don’t feel it can ever be overstated. I found it not only very important in my day-to-day life, but once I had finally controlled my TV habit (which took years to conquer), I found that it also had eternal consequences. So before applying this in a general way, let me tell you what it meant to me.
Paul said that we were to redeem our prayer time, or buy it back. When I began to ask God to help me get my television habit under control, I found the time in my day to do more things that really held value and purpose for me.
As far as the eternal is concerned, I have begun to find out what a friendship with Jesus means. To me, it means coming to Him with every hurt and desire. But knowing that His will is the best for me, it also means yielding to Him.
This yielding means listening, for just as friendship is a two-way street, our friendship with God needs to be one of both talking to Him, and hearing what He has to tell us. He said that we were to be in the world, but not of the world. So if we feel out of place as Christians, that is because we usually are misfits in this world. That feeling of being out of place brings me back full circle.
Many times, we have to make a decision in advance not to go to that party when temptation presents itself. Another example might be deciding not to let our minds wander on the Internet. The good news is that God is able to meet you where you are, and help you overcome the struggles which you face.
There is a story in the Old Testament which provides a great illustration of this. It is about a guy named Daniel and his four friends. The parallel between this story and the Christian life is striking because, just like us, Daniel and his friends were immersed in a different culture. The Babylonian king had captured them, and he did his best to stamp out the worship of the true God. But Daniel had determined in his heart beforehand that he wouldn’t compromise. If you read the story, you’ll find out that he was victorious.
When we face challenging situations, God will be with you if you invite Him into your particular situation, as Daniel did. Ask Him for wisdom, and you will find that making decisions in advance based on biblical convictions will help you stand strong. Since there are some circumstances which aren’t under our control, learning to plan for these is essential, and you can do this by getting to know and meditate on scripture.
I spent too many years fighting my own battles, rather than giving them to God. Therefore, I encourage you not to follow my example. The Bible says that we are fighting a war, so the F stands for Fight. However, the Bible also says that the battle is the Lord’s, so we need to stand back and let Him fight it.
But this does not mean we are to be passive. We engage in warfare through active prayer and study of the Bible.
There are two kingdoms which scripture speaks of: the kingdom of light, and the kingdom of darkness. These two are in constant opposition. The only way we can overcome darkness is by drawing closer to God, who has already overcome it.
As Christ’s disciples, Paul tells us how we need to do this by putting on and walking in Christ. He uses the picture of a suit of Roman armor. His words depict what our lifestyle in Christ should be. Let’s look at each piece of the armor of God, beginning with the belt of truth.
A soldier in Paul’s day had a leather girdle that he tightened around his waist. It was both to protect his loins and the weapons he carried, which probably would have included a sword or dagger. The belt also held his tunic together, which speaks of the integrity of the believer. Scripture also tells us how Christ holds everything together, and I believe that speaks of our calling to constantly abide in Him.
The breastplate, in Paul’s day, was a woven chain which covered the soldier’s vital organs. Metaphorically, this speaks of how we must be covered by Jesus’ righteousness. Since Christ is pure, his followers are commanded to come to Him, and confess their sins. We must trust in Christ, instead of drawing upon our own righteousness.
We are to live lives of integrity which glorify Him. Satan wants to get into our hearts and minds, so we must be on our guard whenever we face struggles and temptations.
Next on the armor examination, a Roman soldier had nails on the bottoms of his shoes, which helped him gain traction. These nails allowed for a firm footting in battle. As we face the battles of life, it is important that we are sure-footed and standing on the solid rock of salvation.
Next, we come to the shield of faith. The soldier’s shield was made of wood covered by leather, and it was approximately 2 by 4 feet. The Roman soldiers dipped their arrows in oil, lighted them, and fired them at the enemy. Just as shields were used for protection in physical battle, we must protect ourselves against the enemy of our souls.
Now we come to the helmet of salvation. The Bible says we are to bring every thought into the captivity of Christ. So, just as soldiers proudly wore their helmets in battle, our helmet of salvation must be worn to insure that we have the mind of Christ.
Lastly, Paul said that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Remember how Jesus reacted when He was tempted by the devil? He fought back by saying, “it is written.” We must use the Word in an active way, for Satan is not a foe we can fight in our own strength.
So as you make your way through daily life, P: Pray for boldness and strength. Also, ask God to open new doors so that you can be a brighter light for Him. D: don’t try and sit on the fence. Instead, stand and make Godly Decisions in advance. Lastly, F: let the Lord Fight the battle, allowing God to give you peace and strength in the ocean of life, and taking Him with you everywhere–even to work.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-432-6499. When prompted, press 1 for live chat rooms, and we’ll be waiting in room 31. You can press pound to bypass our friend Sharon’s intro message once you’ve entered room 31. We hope to talk with you soon!
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