March 18 - Message Update

SanLo Community, an update for March 18, 2018

Thank you Pastor Brian for the message from Ephesians 6:10-17, “God’s Protection.”  The entire cost to have what we need to protect and fight for ourselves has been paid through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  This protection is known as the armor of God.  Why do we need God’s protection and how does God protect us?

We need God’s protection because we are in a SPIRITUAL BATTLE. (vv.10-13) People face battles every day.  We battle discouragement.  We battle being judged or judging others.  We battle internal and external lies. Not all of these battles are spiritual but many are rooted in the unseen spiritual battle between God and the devil.  This is not a fight between good and evil but it is a spiritual conflict between God who loves us and the devil who hates us.  We are fighting against the darkness of this world, the “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." In completing the letter of Ephesians about God’s grace and how to live in grace, Paul’s closing remarks stress being strong in the Lord, putting on the armor of God to stand firm against our greatest enemy the devil who schemes against us. Your enemy is not your spouse, your child, your friend, or someone who disagrees with you politically, etc.  Satan is the enemy who seeks to destroy marriages, relationships with our parents, siblings, extended family, friends, coworkers and especially fellow believers. If you are not yet a believer in Jesus, understand that God is fighting for your soul.  God desires that you know Him.  His grace saves you from the grips of the devil through His Son Jesus. We are rescued from the devil when we humbly admit our mistakes, ask forgiveness and acknowledge that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son; that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)  Though we will encounter spiritual battles where Satan will try to weaken us, make us doubt our faith or attempt to get us to turn from God, ultimately the war is already won.  The devil cannot steal us from Christ. The good news is that God does not leave us alone and has provided protection and weapons to fight spiritual battles while in this world. How does God protect us? (vv.14-17) Paul, the writer of this letter is a prisoner of Rome, chained 24/7 by the wrist to a Roman soldier to prevent escape. Paul knew the armor of the Roman soldier very well.  He used their battle gear as a metaphor to illustrate God’s armor even the sequence in which the armor is described is also the order in which the soldier put on each piece.

1) God protects us with the BELT of TRUTH. (v.14) This was a very wide belt which held a lot of equipment.  Various loops on the belt carried swords, food and water sacks, and darts.  It was an essential part of the armor. In the same way the soldier first put on his belt every day we should first put on the Belt of Truth.  Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth, no one comes to the Father but through Me.” We should take the time to remind ourselves every morning that without Jesus we can’t stand before God sinless and holy.       

2) God protects us with the BREASTPLATE of RIGHTEOUSNESS. (v.14)  The breastplate was anchored to the belt by leather laces passed through rings on the belt to keep it solidly attached. The key area the breastplate protected was the heart. Just as the heart is a key organ to keep us physically alive, our spiritual lives can be deadened if our hearts are not right with God.  According to Matthew 26:41 the heart of man is prone to be tempted.  Jesus warns us to “Keep watching and praying that you not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Though we are weak, Jesus strengthens us against temptation by causing God’s Word to come alive in our hearts when we daily study the Bible.

3) God protects us with the GOSPEL of PEACE (v.15)  Some historians credit footwear as one of the greatest reasons why the Roman Army was so victorious. Their footwear had spikes, rocks, or shells on the soles which provided them a strong stance that gave them a superior advantage on hills and uneven terrain. We have peace when we are planted firmly on the Word of God. God’s Word keeps us steady during times of doubt or fear.  Are you afraid of something or someone? Psalm 28:7, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him and I am helped.”

4) God protects us with the SHIELD of FAITH (v.16) The Roman shield protected from arrows, spears, and fiery darts. It is a picture of a believer’s faith in the promises of God.  Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as the “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Faith is not seen but the value of faith lies not in the person exercising it, but in the person whom the faith is in.  For Christ followers, our faith is in God who does not make mistakes, is reliable and can be depended upon to protect us.

5) God protects us with the HELMET of SALVATION (v.17) The Romans had the best helmet of the ancient world. It was made of bronze and designed to protect the soldier from all angles of attack. The greatest battlefield is in our minds. This is the area that the enemy wants to attack the most.  The devil will try to sneak damaging, hurtful, lies into our minds.  Blows to the head, or to our minds, are deadly.  We must guard our minds on what we think about.  For instance do you think that you are so bad that God cannot love you?  The Bible says you are loved so much that God let His Son Jesus die on the cross for your sins. Or do you think you are so good you don’t need God?  The Bible says that “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 The helmet of salvation is a picture of how God’s Word protects us from destructive thoughts. Don’t listen to the lies of the devil, rather listen to the Word of God that says we are precious, live for God, and have a full life in Christ Jesus.

6) God protects us with the SWORD of the SPIRIT (v.17)  Paul spoke of a particular sword. It was two edged and known to be a very powerful weapon. Our weapon is the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus quoted His Father's words and spoke with authority.  Christ followers may speak with same authority and attack doubts of salvation with these words that “God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” (Ephesians 1:4)

You may have noticed that the armor of God is strong because of God’s Word.  Verses 18-20 emphasizes that prayer although not listed as a part of God’s armor is just as crucial.  Prayer along with God’s Word not only protects us but makes us partners with Almighty God.  Praying at all times to ready ourselves for battle is how we put on our God’s armor and fight the spiritual battle.

As we conclude this sermon series “Saved by Grace and Live by Grace” we should remember that in the context of Ephesians, God’s armor is not just for ourselves. God saves and protects us for His purposes in our daily spiritual battles.  We are encouraged and protected by His Word and prayer to boldly open our mouths and make known the mystery of the gospel (v.19) This mystery is that by grace we are saved through faith and that not of ourselves it is the gift of God.

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Mission Moment: We welcome Nick and Erin Petkoff to SanLo as one of our monthly supported missionaries as they are near being fully funded to be sent to Japan with TEAM. You may find much more about their background, mission and vision and how to pray for them from their website: http://www.petkoffstojapan.com...