“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)
In just two days, the job interview you were dying to go on last week will take place. But things have literally changed overnight. It turns out you don’t need that job you thought you couldn’t live without.
Thanks to a very generous inheritance, you have gone from gopher to CEO, so you have a greater need than ever to dress for success. You know that people will be watching your every move, and you feel a sense of pride in your imagined self-importance.
As a result, you become a clothes horse. You’re constantly primping in the mirror to make sure that no hair is out of place. You have to keep up this image, so you only go to the fanciest of stores.
Despite all those hours you spend picking out new clothes, you learn that your new wealth doesn’t satisfy you in the long run. Once a year has passed, you decide you’ve had enough of this lifestyle, and the headakes that leadership poses. This isn’t like you dreamed it would be at all, and nothing seems quite right.
You want to return to your old job and your real friends, but you ask yourself, “Don’t I need the income from this CEO position?” “No,” you finally decide, “I was happier back there.”
During a phone call, your former boss tells you, “I’m glad you’ve finally come to your senses. Your old job is waiting.”
Once you’ve donated all your clothing to the poor, you put on your jeans and head back to work. But one month later, you find that you aren’t happy there either. You may be back in your previous position, but you can never really go home again. Then it dawns on you: you may have been asking the wrong questions and looking in the wrong places.
While this is just a story, I’m sad to say that it can often parallel our lives. Like the man in our story, those of us who claim to be followers of Christ look in the wrong places, and ask God the wrong questions.
We have our eyes set on prestige, and we dress as the world tells us to dress. “I don’t need to look up,” we say. “Things are going fine down here.” Then, when the storms of life arrive, we tend to ask God why we’re not happy.
We come to God like spoiled children and say something like this. “I thought You came to give me an abundant life, but there’s nothing abundant about it. Look at all these bills!”
We have a lot of nerve to think we can address the God of the universe like this. Whenever we complain to God in this way, we make ourselves the center of the universe, instead of making God the focal point of our lives.
Making Him the center of all we do means looking at Him and falling in love. The question that this will produce is, “How can I please you, God?”
According to His word, God’s answer might be something like this. “I need you to dress for success in My kingdom.” So let’s now talk about that.
Paul addressed this issue when he spoke about putting on the whole armor of God. But why armor, you ask? The Bible makes it clear that we are in a war, and that the very real enemy we are equipped to fight is not a mere mortal. Rather, he is a shrewd being with superior intelligence. So in order to dress properly, let’s look at each piece that the Bible describes.
First, scripture tells us that we need to have the belt of truth buckled tight around our waists. Jesus said a lot about truth, and He told us that He is its embodiment. In contrast to this, the Bible says that Satan is a liar, so just as we need the support of a belt, we need the support of the King in the battle of our day-to-day lives.
Another characteristic of truth Christ mentions is the quality of freedom. Jesus has overcome the world, giving us a new freedom in Him. In other words, when we face seemingly impossible situations, we can know that all things are possible with God.
The next piece of God’s armor is the breastplate of righteousness. The wearing of this plate means we know we can do nothing without Christ, and that our self-righteousness apart from Him is as filthy rags. Even if you know this, Satan is a master deceiver, and he will try and lead you into condemnation, so it is important that you are secure in this truth.
We are to be ready and on guard, and so we must have our feet fitted with the gospel of peace. Satan only wants to bring disharmony and confusion, while Jesus wants His followers to stand in peace. He wants us to share the good news He has brought, and when things seem to be falling apart, God wants us to enjoy his peace that passes all understanding.
Notice it tells us to have our feet fitted. I believe this speaks of the issue of security in Christ. If you have ever stumbled around in shoes that were too big or too small, you can easily see what this text is saying. Christ calls us to have a boldness and confidence in Him, instead of stumbling in our own strength.
During battles, Roman soldiers held their shields in front of them for protection. In the same way, we need to carry our own shields of faith, which will deflect Satan’s darts. The faith that we have is not against reason. It is an intelligent faith based on God’s Word, which has been proven time and time again.
Salvation has three different tenses: “I have been saved”, “I am being saved or delivered in trials”, and “I will be saved in the future”. Therefore, we are to wear the helmet of salvation, which will guard our minds and keep us focused on Christ.
Related to this is the sword of the Spirit, or the Word of God. Remember when Jesus was tempted by the Devil in the wilderness? While we need to use the model that Jesus showed us and confront the devil with scripture, we need to note that the devil also uses scripture for his own purposes. He is a expert misquoter, and he loves taking things out of context. That is why the Bible tells us to test each and every Spirit. In other words, hold each spirit up to the light of scripture. If God’s Word doesn’t support that particular idea, get rid of it.
It’s useless to carry a sword in battle unless you know how to use it. Meditate and think about the Word of God. Turn it over in your mind, and study what it has to say. Listen to some Christian music. When you are in tough circumstances, tell yourself things like, “If God is for me, who can be against me?”
Finally, the apostle Paul speaks about praying in the Spirit. In the body of Christ there is a lot of confusion about this, but it simply means praying according to God’s will. If you are not sure what His will might be, search the scriptures and seek godly counsel.
The question I left you with last week, namely, “How are you dressed?”, made me look at my own wardrobe more closely. I now challenge you to do the same. Make sure you’re dressed for success, and instead of just standing there alone, stand up for the King!
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 Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-432-6498. 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!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.