THE UNIFORM OF FAITH

6 06 2016

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If your soul is ever going to become strong in the Lord then there must come a time when the external fears that surround you get a chance to run head first right at your internal faith. A vibrant and living faith can only be empowered and strengthened by a personal relationship with God. The stronger the heart’s connection with the Lord, the better the chance that fear will be stopped dead in its tracks as it hits the Holy Spirit shield that protects you from the poisonous projectiles.  Every walk with God will be tested, challenged and strengthened by following the Lord through the good and bad experiences that life brings. Christianity does not grow without intentional and conscious bold moves of faith! How can you become brave, wise and seasoned if you are glued to the bench without a commitment to take the field? As Christians, we can’t just be worshippers hidden away in the safety of a sanctuary. We must also be obedient to learn how to be warriors out in the streets! Christians must be ready to play some offense! We need to swing the bat!  We need to shoot the ball!  We need to throw the pass!  We need to slap the puck!  We need to kick the goal!

 If you have ever read Ephesians 6 in the New Testament, then you are familiar with what should be the mandatory uniform of every believer, the full armor of God. The first three pieces of the wardrobe are key accessories in the Body of Christ being able to play triumphant offense! It includes the “Belt of Truth, Breastplate of Righteousness and Boots of God’s Peace!” When we are dressed for this kind of spiritual success, we quickly come to the conclusion that it sure is fun playing offense! Just like in the game of baseball, it is great to be able to hit a fastball over 500 feet! But we can’t settle in being just one dimensional players when it comes to fulfilling our positions on God’s Team. We have all known many a baseball player that was a great hitter but he couldn’t field to save his life. To this day they have never put a “Designated Hitter” in the Hall of Fame! Cooperstown is set aside only for those who excel in all the tools of the game! We call that rare individual a 5-tool player. This is an athlete who excels at hitting for average as well as possessing long ball power. He has been blessed with great base running skills and speed, throwing ability, and fielding prowess. The greatest all around baseball player that I ever saw was Willie Mays! He could hit the ball a mile, run like the wind, throw bullets from the outfield, catch baseballs that others could only chase and make constant contact at the plate!

 There’s not a Christian alive who doesn’t have complete access to all of the armor of God! We sometimes limit ourselves because we buy into the lies that tell us that we are not worthy and can’t do a thing! But because of the Spirit of God we are all capable of so much more. And the more you play offense in the faith, the better you must become at defense! As we are battling daily to be active followers of Jesus amidst a crowd going the opposite way, the enemy launches repeated volleys of blazing arrows. These are temptations trying to trip us up. These are sneaky strategies to get us to slip and slide. These are direct deceptions that cause us to become distracted and turn off the main road as we blindly follow the detour leading to our demise. But as all of hell attempts to burn down our bridges by lighting up our lusts, it is only our uncompromising passionate pursuit and love for Jesus that will cause those flaming arrows to thud harmlessly away as we deflect the devil’s darts by putting into practice the proper use of our shield! And we do even better when we combine our shields together! In community we can have some of our brothers holding their shields held high to form a roof and then we can have our sisters using their shields to build a wall that acts like a fortress of protection! Come on Christians! Get the picture! In a group we stand a much better chance of being victorious than if we stand alone.

Next we need to make sure our mind is fitted perfectly by the helmet of salvation. This headgear is literally the assurance we have as disciples that we belong to the Lord. I know who I am because I know whose I am. We are assured that we are playing for the winning team! It is our confident boost! It’s the truth that keeps the brain sane especially when you see so many lies launched at us daily.

 How many of you have ever suffered a concussion? Concussion comes from the Latin which means “to shake violently.” It is the most common type of traumatic brain injury.  The enemy wants to shake, rattle and roll our minds into becoming nothing more than lime Jell-O! We can experience spiritual concussions in our walk with God. A blow to the head spiritually is a serious thing that can leave us unbalanced, confused, dizzy, dazed and disoriented as to our purpose in life. You can’t lose your confidence as a Christian when you know that if God be for you then nothing can stand against you. Do you know who has tons of confidence? Kids do! They haven’t been educated enough yet to know what they can’t do! Remember when we would go swinging on the swings as high as we could fly? We even got jazzed when the pegs of the swing set were coming out of the ground. And then at the very height of the upswing, with arms flailing, legs kicking, we shouted as loud as we could “Geronimo! We hit the ground like a stuntman, rolling and tumbling and jumping to our feet. At the heart of being a Christian is being a child. As adults we’ve become a culture of human doings, when we were designed to live as human beings. And when we deny our design, we run the risk of destroying our design. And with the helmet of salvation strapped on- we never forget who we are and what we can do in the power of God!

 Finally, there is the sword of the Spirit. I know we see the word sword and we might think of the swashbuckling blades of Errol Flynn or Zorro slashing a Z. But we should be thinking the choreography of “West Side Story” rather than ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean.” The word used for sword is best translated “switchblade,” You have to get close to use a switchblade. You have to be right on top of somebody for it to be effective. You can’t know its effectiveness from a distance. Switchblade fighting isn’t about fighting as much as it’s about surviving and defending yourself against attack. If you want to learn to defend yourself with this kind of knife, you need intelligence, balance, and precision.

 The Word of God is an awesome defensive weapon. It keeps you light on your feet and strong in your mission. The Word of God slices through the lies of the enemy by responding with absolute truth! And the proper knowledge of taking on the enemy with the Word of God leads to fighting the kind of battle that is hand to hand and heart to heart. It cuts right through the hot air, empty arguments and vain ideas and brings the one and only true God back to being front and center!

We need to be properly trained and equipped so that we may proclaim boldly, “It is Written,” every time the enemy hits us with a shrewd, “Is it Really?” The sword of the spirit is the ability to apply God’s word by speaking it aloud right at your circumstance and surrounding. God’s Word will be the fresh breeze in a world suffering from hot air! God’s Word will give hope to the hurting, wonder to the wandering, conviction to the condescending and truth to the troubled. In the courtroom of everyday life, God’s Word spoken out is the good hard evidence you need to send the allegations and accusations of the devil back to hell where they came from!

 We are at war and there is a sense in which there will always be a battle raging and we won’t be able to escape the opposition this side of heaven. That is why we must have our armor on.

Sleep in it! Wake in it! Walk in it! Live in it! Our offense consists of the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, and the Boots of God’s Peace! Our Defense depends upon the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation and the Switchblade of God’s Word. Slip it on! Straighten up! Stand Tall! Stay True! Hold your head up high and report for duty! Receive your uniform and get on the field.

We are closer than ever to the big finish and we already know we win! Each one of us still has a part to play in the big picture that God is painting! This is no time to let your guard down and Christianity is never about coasting!


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