December 5, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Ephesians 6)

Submitted by Nelson W. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 6:10-14 

  • Notice the balance between human action and God’s provision – i.e., what we are called to do, and what God will do for us.  In what ways have I had to be “strong in the Lord”?

God provides us with so many blessings. He has given us everything we need to engage in spiritual battle. But that doesn’t mean anything if we don’t receive and use what He provides. We must never think that we don’t need to do anything even though God’s provisions are sufficient. He gives us His love and invites us to receive His forgiveness and salvation but we actually need to respond to His invitation with faith and receive the free gift of salvation. It’s the same with all of God’s other provisions. We need to respond and act. God gives us His whole armor that we need to engage in spiritual warfare but that armor is not actually on us unless we do the work of taking it up and putting it on. And when we are equipped with the whole armor of God, we need to do the fighting and stand firm against Satan’s attacks.

Though I am sinful, vulnerable, helpless at times, and weak to temptation, I have only been able to stand my ground in this spiritual battle through the strength that God provides. It’s through times of being humbled after trying to rely on my own strength and willpower that I saw how desperately I need to depend on God’s strength. I am only strong when I utilize what God gives me. Then His strength can be my strength and His might can be my might. Satan attacks me by sowing seeds of mistrust, causing me to doubt God’s motives. He lures me with promises that earthly treasures will bring me lasting joy. He convinces me that God is fed up with me and that I too unfit to be used by God. Against these, God gives me His word that is truth and power. Through His word, my thinking has been renewed and I have become increasingly persuaded of God’s goodness and love for me as well as His desire to use me to be a blessing to others. I am weak to temptation but God’s word protects me by giving me the strength to resist and flee from it. His amazing grace gives me the assurance that I am forgiven and when I reflect on how incredible and wonderful this is, I am compelled and motivated to respond to His love through faith and obedience.

  • What words describe the context for our need to “put on the whole armor of God”?  What can I learn about the nature of the spiritual battle raging around me from these verses?

“The schemes of the devil” suggests an enemy that is cunning and active. Satan is utilizing all his power and everything under his disposal to prevent people from relating to God and having fellowship with Him. He is tirelessly working to keep people from God and neutralizing believers from doing His kingdom work. We are battling “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” We’re not fighting against forces of comparable strength or against an enemy that we can see or understand. The spiritual forces of evil are operating on an entirely different realm. Their ways and abilities are beyond us. They attack with ideas and in ways that we are not even aware of. Satan and his forces are experts who know our every weakness and they are waiting to pounce at every single opportunity. How can we hope to stand a chance against such a clever, powerful, and relentless enemy? With human weapons and methods, we stand no chance. It is only with the whole armor of God that can we stand. Nothing else is sufficient. It’s because the situation is so dire and the enemy so fierce that we need the whole armor of God so that we will be completely protected and equipped to battle the forces of darkness. Being only partially or even mostly equipped or protected is not enough because Satan needs only a small foothold on that which is unprotected to exploit our weaknesses. We really do need the whole armor of God, not just some or most of it, to be able to withstand the schemes and attacks of Satan.

  • To what extent do I see myself as involved in a spiritual battle?

I’ve always been fascinated with war history and I love certain war films, like Glory, that really depict the terror that soldiers face in war and the dedication and sacrifice required to face it. In the movie Glory, many army officers during the Civil War don’t take the black soldiers of the 54th Regiment seriously because they don’t think they will ever be sent into battle. They are not interested in properly equipping or training the regiment because they won’t need it if they will never see battle. But Colonel Shaw, the commanding officer of the regiment, hopes and believes they will be sent into battle and so he takes his duty of preparing them very seriously. He understood that this was a matter of life and death for his men. And he was well aware of the high stakes of the war, of how many lives it would affect. The more someone believes that war is coming, the more he will take it seriously, and the more he will prepare and labor for it. I think of what it’s like to be a soldier in war. They train hard so their bodies will be well conditioned to move quickly and meet the extreme demands of warfare. They train, hone their skills, and formulate strategy so they can be ready to fight the enemy. Soldiers devote all their time and energy preparing for and engaging in battle. They don’t involve themselves in civilian affairs or slack off because to do so in the face of war would be utterly foolish and irresponsible. They endure everything and risk everything, including their lives, so that the war can be won.

As I look at my life and assess whether or not I have been adequately involved in spiritual battle and the answer is no. Though I have been getting equipped, I have also involved myself in “civilian affairs” every time I relax, fill my mind with entertainment, or give into physical or mental laziness when there is urgent work to be done. These things might be acceptable during peacetime but not when there is war. I haven’t taken myself as seriously as Colonel Shaw. I need to be as disciplined as he was and anticipate battle as he did. I am a minister and have people that I have been entrusted to minister to and mentor. I am the watchman on the wall and it’s a tremendously important privilege and calling. I need to be vigilant for them and train them up as much as Colonel Shaw did. One huge way in which Satan can attack me is to hide the fact that there is spiritual battle going on or make me think that it’s not that serious or difficult. He tries to hide his own movements and make his influence subtle so I won’t take him seriously. He draws my focus away from the reality that there is a harvest field full of people who desperately need God but don’t know Him. So, I need to be constantly aware that there is a spiritual war going on and the stakes are high, higher than in any other earthly war between nations. People’s eternities are at stake. It’s in this context that I should live my life and put on the full armor of God so that I and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ can be equipped and ready to do God’s kingdom work.

  • What is the significance of Apostle Paul’s repeated call to “stand” (vv. 11, 13, 14)?

Spiritual battle doesn’t end with just taking up and putting on the whole armor of God. We need to actually fight, engage, and stand against the spiritual forces of evil. What good are we if we just equip and prepare for battle but don’t actually fight? I am one who doesn’t like to engage is something until I am fully ready for it. Sometimes, this causes me to be passive and miss opportunities because I don’t think I’m ready for it and so I don’t engage in the battle. Satan can fool me into thinking that God won’t help me. Or he distracts me and occupies my mind and attention so that I am unaware of the spiritual battles I should be involved in. Satan can have great victories by neutralizing God’s people and rendering them ineffective. That is why Apostle Paul repeatedly calls us to stand. We need to do the work of being vigilant and looking out for the cunning and sneaky enemy so that we are not unaware of his schemes. We need to know where the battles are, where the weaknesses are so we can put defenses up and stand. We can’t just sit around with our armor. We need to get up, go to where the battle is, and stand against the schemes of the devil. There can be no rest or ceasefire because Satan gives us no rest or opportunity to relax. This is wartime and we need to be on our guard and stand.

Personal Prayer

Write out a brief prayer based on today’s DT.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the blessing of your word that equips me to engage in spiritual battle. Lord, you know my weaknesses and how helpless I am against the spiritual forces of darkness. Please humble my heart so that I will be utterly dependent on the strength and wisdom you provide, that I may stand against the enemy. Please watch over me and protect me with the whole armor of God. May I always set my mind on things above, on who you are, and what you have already done for me so that I may allow your Spirit to lead me and give me the courage and zeal to do your kingdom work and stand against the spiritual forces of evil.

Submitted by Claire K from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 6:10-14

  • Notice the balance between human action and God’s provision – i.e., what we are called to do, and what God will do for us.  In what ways have I had to be “strong in the Lord”?

The ways I had to be “strong in the Lord” was not as dramatic as someone who is persecuted for following Christ but it had a lot to do with battling my own thoughts and emotions.

I had to be “strong in the Lord” many times when I sinned or made unwise choices as I would hear condemning voices in my head that would tell me that I am no good, I better just stop trying to do anything, I am barely tolerated and it’d be better if I just went away.

Then I would go to that day’s DT or a passage in the bible that would remind me the truth that if I confess then I am forgiven (1 John 1:9), that my righteousness comes from God through Jesus Christ (Rom 3:22), that I am a beloved child of God (Romans 8:16) and other truths and promises. God gives me his word, but I need to do my part in believing in his word and see that the voices in my heads are lies and are not true about the way God views me. I had to be “strong in the Lord” by believing that what God said was true over what I thought or felt.

Another way I had to be “strong in the Lord” was in speaking truth to people in my life. How I much rather just get along with everyone and not have to talk about truth, whether it’s something true about me or whether it something true about the other person. But there are many passages that talk about speaking truth to another (e.g. Eph 4:15, 25), and for me, as a life group leader, I need to warn and bring people back when they wander from the truth. (James 5:20) So I had to embrace my role as a leader, as well as the fact that to come into the light and speak truth about myself sets me free and to speak truth to others is also good for them.  It was and is hard to do, but as I obeyed, I was able to be “strong in the Lord” and experience how speaking truth brought about repentance and freedom for me and others.

  • What words describe the context for our need to “put on the whole armor of God”?  What can I learn about the nature of the spiritual battle raging around me from these verses?

The words that describe context for our need to “put on the whole armor of God” is our need to be able to  “stand against the schemes of the devil” and to wrestle against the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”.

I can learn that the nature of the spiritual battle raging around me is one of cosmic in nature, where powerful and evil spiritual being who are rulers and authorities are going on an all our war against God and his people. I am going against powers and forces that are evil, that are against God and his ways. I can see these evil forces in our media, culture and society, but there are also evil forces directed against God’s people and what they are trying to do for the Lord.  I need to be attentive and vigilant in response.

  • To what extent do I see myself as involved in a spiritual battle?

I see myself involved in a spiritual battle first of all for my own soul. There are voices that I know are from the evil one, voices that say, I don’t have to take God that seriously, that he will understand if I don’t obey this one time, that God is too much in expecting me to be holy, that I don’t have to work that hard. Voices that tell me that I don’t really belong to God’s church, that I am too wicked to do ministry, that God and people don’t really like me. To these voices, whether they are from me or from the Devil, I need to fight against them and embrace the truth that is found in God’s word that says I am his beloved child and I am forgiven and that I belong.

I see myself involved also in spiritual battle for those God has entrusted to me. There are temptations and lies that try to lure people away from God.  Fears and desires cause people to chase after other things besides God, often leaving them tired, empty and cynical. There are the lies that God’s impossible to please, that God is sick and tired of them because of their sin, and more. Against these lies, I need to pray for protection over those entrusted to me, I need to speak truth and bring God’s words to them and I need to help them see reality and truth as God sees it.

In other words, I need to be vigilant for myself and for others–prayerful and speaking truth as well as going through my own struggles and their struggles with them.

  • What is the significance of Apostle Paul’s repeated call to “stand” (vv. 11, 13, 14)?

The significance of Apostle Paul’s repeated call to “stand” is that God calls to take our stand and not move from it. We are to hold our ground as followers of Christ, to keep to God’s ways and values and to hold to each other. It’s encouraging to know that Paul is addressing a group of Christians, a church, to take a stand together.

There is another verse that is along the similar thought 1 Cor 5:58 says “Therefore my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain.” With the armor of God, we can take our stand as soldiers of Christ, and Satan and all the evil forces will not be able to move us from where we have taken a stand as a church if we put on the armor of God.

Submitted by Helen P. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 6:10-14 

  • Notice the balance between human action and God’s provision – i.e., what we are called to do, and what God will do for us.  In what ways have I had to be “strong in the Lord”?

One way that I have had to be strong in the Lord is as I fight against the voices of disbelief and accusation that come up in my head.  They are voices that go against God’s truths. V12 reads, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places…”  Spiritual warfare is the battle that goes on between believers and Satan and his army of evil forces and demons.  It’s a spiritual struggle against the dark forces of evil in the world that goes on in the heart and minds of people.  Apostle Paul urges us not to get lured and sucked in by Satan’s tactics.  There have been many times this past year that I was convicted by the Holy Spirit to confess about a sin that I committed.  It was clear that the holy spirit was prompting me to confess, to God and to the person that I hurt but I remember each time I was convicted by the Holy Spirit, Satan was right there with me putting thoughts in my mind like “It’s okay, people are never going to know what you did.  Just keep it to yourself. Just confess to God, that’s all you have to do.” “You don’t have to go through the awkwardness, shame, and discomfort of telling someone what you did.  Just think about other things so that you can forget about it.”  Or voices that tell me that I’m never going to change, I’m condemned, I’m not forgiven, I’m worthless… Satan doesn’t want me to confess and repent. He doesn’t want me to be relieved from my guilt and shame.  He doesn’t want me to believe what it says in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Satan says that it’s too good to be true.  Satan constantly wants to drag me down so that I don’t experience victory. He wants me to feel defeated by my sins, to remain in darkness and hopelessness.  It’s through these times that I needed “to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might”.  It’s kind of scary how real these evil forces and voices are. Each time I had to remember that Satan and his forces have already been defeated and overcome by Jesus Christ. I claimed the truth of God’s word in scripture in my prayers and through belief, I was able to fight against the power of the dark forces.  I remember praying “Lord, help my unbelief!” and speaking the very words that were in the Bible and through those times of earnest prayer and proclaiming God’s truth, I experienced overcoming the voices of Satan and standing firm in the Truth.  The truth really did set me free.

  • What words describe the context for our need to “put on the whole armor of God”?  What can I learn about the nature of the spiritual battle raging around me from these verses?

Schemes of the devil, against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers, present darkness, spiritual forces of evil, evil day.  From these verses, it’s implied that in spiritual battle I’m going to experience weakness and therefore I must be strong in the Lord and in God’s strength.  I also need to be protected from the schemes of the devil and therefore I need to put on the whole armor of God.  What these verses also teach me is that spiritual battle needs to be fought deliberately.  Daily I need to have wartime mentality, just like a soldier who is in battle.  There is no time to rest when the enemy is constantly firing ammunition, voices, desires, temptations that will slow me down and debilitate me from following God. Unless I am obeying God and walking by the Spirit, I will end up gratifying the desires of my flesh and giving into the devil’s schemes. The sinful nature is the default state of man in this world. This means that I cannot remain passive as I live out my life as a Christian. I must be intentional and active about seeing and following what the Spirit desires so that Satan does not gain a foothold into my heart.  Through the Word of God we know what Satan is up to, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (2 Corinthians 2:11).  We, as believers, don’t have to fight blindly because like it says in 2 Cor 2:11, we are not ignorant of Satan’s designs and schemes, and with this knowledge we can fight the spiritual battle with focus and being proactive and prepared.

  • To what extent do I see myself as involved in a spiritual battle?

With all that life throws at me day in and day out, with distractions, things that I need to take care of, people to meet, in the midst of just living life, this spiritual battle may not be so evident.  It’s through times of reading the word of God, being reminded of the schemes of Satan, the temptations that are all around me that I am reminded again of the spiritual warfare that is raging, that indeed Satan is like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be soberminded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith…”

For me personally, doing ministry has kept me aware of the spiritual warfare that is going on in the world.  The dark authorities, the spiritual forces of evil in this world are present all around us. I feel like the forces are especially strong in the media and on the internet.  So many messages that get pumped into our minds as people ingest inappropriate and unedifying things from the internet and in media. Unbeknownst to them, those who are unthinkingly taking in material from media/internet, Satan is slowly diverting them from following God and being faithful to Him.  As I engage in ministry and get to know people, more and more I’m seeing the spiritual battle that is at hand.  People don’t know that Satan has them captive. I witness people addicted to the internet, girls, and even guys, who have bought into the world system that says that they need to look a certain way in order to be valued, loved, and cherished resulting in eating disorders, some even contemplating suicide because they are feeling hopeless about life.  Satan is actively at work! As I witness this from the very people who are in my life, I see that I am very much involved in a spiritual battle, and as a minister, though these people may be helpless to fight this battle for themselves, I am not helpless.  God calls me to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might as I minister to these people.  I need to fight this battle with those who may be hurting, reminding them of the truth and the hope that we have in Christ Jesus.

  • What is the significance of Apostle Paul’s repeated call to “stand” (vv. 11, 13, 14)?

I am called to stand firm as I fight this spiritual battle.  Apostle Paul’s repeated call for us to stand firm is a reminder that we ought not to get discouraged or so easily defeated by Satan’s evil forces. In the midst of all that Satan tries to blind us with, to drag us down, God calls us to stand. We are not hopeless or helpless.  Don’t let Satan get the best of us.  God gives me the whole armor of God to help me stand against the schemes of the devil, to withstand in the evil day, to stand firm with the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness.  God gives me the armor to protect me from Satan and his powers.  It’s an amazing thing that I can put on the full armor of God and actually stand my ground against the evil forces of the air, that when I do what God tells me to do, when I obey God’s commands, I can indeed stand.  God gives me the Word of Truth, ministry, people to love and care for, the church, co-laborers and soldiers in Christ, my leaders and friends so that I can fight this spiritual battle.  One thing that I was very clearly reminded of through today’s Word is that when I give into temptation, Satan’s voices that tell me to rest and let up a little bit, or causing me to doubt what God says, I am allowing Satan to enter into my heart. The fact that when I am earnest and sincere in following God, when I take small steps of obedience to do what God wants me to do, then as keep doing that, I’m anchoring myself and standing my ground against Satan’s ways.

Personal Prayer

Write out a brief prayer based on today’s DT.

Dear Lord, thank you for your call to be strong in the Lord and to stand firm in the midst of the spiritual battle that is raging all our me.  Thank you for not leaving me alone to fight against Satan’s schemes.  Thank you for the belt of Truth (the Word of God) and the breastplate of righteousness that I can put on to protect myself from Satan, and to be active in fighting against Him. Lord, please help me to be always aware of this spiritual battle, that I would have wartime mentality rather than peacetime mentality.  Souls are being taken over by Satan every minute.  Oh God, I want to commit to daily claiming your words of Truth so that I can stand firm against Satan and his ways! I pray that I would be faithful to you and as I actively follow you, I want to defeat the evil one…

Submitted by Evelyn L. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 6:10-14 

•     Notice the balance between human action and God’s provision – i.e., what we are called to do, and what God will do for us.  In what ways have I had to be “strong in the Lord”?

One way in which I have experienced this is in my struggles against thoughts and voices of condemnation that condemns me for sins or the guilt from the things I’ve done in the past that creeps up here and there to haunt me. Voices that tells me that I cannot possibly be forgiven after all I’ve done, voices that say that who I am is not good enough, voices that strives to take me out of the battlefield and cause me to doubt God’s goodness, voices that causes me to doubt His promises, voices that takes me into a place of isolation where I am in hiding from God’s presence or His people. These are the times that I have to be “strong in the Lord”, these are the times when I have to actively put on His armor for me to experience that armor is working to help me take my stand against the devil’s schemes. These are the times when I feel the weakest, when the lies of the devil cripples me but when I go to the word of God – whether it’s through going to the bible, or doing that day’s DT or through speaking with my leaders or peers who would bring me God’s word, as I start to claim His promises and believing in them, I experience His words being a shield from Satan’s fiery darts of accusation and condemnation. These are the times when I am able to experience what it means to be strong in the Lord, that though I feel weak, I find strength that comes from God through trusting and believing in who God is.

•     What words describe the context for our need to “put on the whole armor of God”?  What can I learn about the nature of the spiritual battle raging around me from these verses?

The context for our need to put on the whole armor of God is that we are not merely just wrestling against flesh and blood but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. These verses tells us that the battle that we are in is not merely a physical one, but it’s against spiritual forces of evil and darkness. This tells me that the nature of the spiritual battle that is raging around me is a very fierce one. This tells me that what I am battling against is not only against what I can see but there is a battle that is going on in the spiritual realms and as God’s people I am called to actively participate and be engaged in this battle. This warns me, that I cannot be someone who is just passively sits around as if there was peace because the devil is actively engaged in this battle on the other side. Whether it’s for my own life or the lives of those who have been entrusted to my care or just the lives of those around me, I am called to be fully engaged in this battle. One way in which this applies to my life is for me to first be someone who is proactively looking at my life, to be someone who is engaged and in tune with what is going on in my heart, to be someone who is reflective, so that I am able to bring myself honestly before God, in order for His words to be able to search my heart and cleanse it I first need to be able to know who I am and what’s going on. For me to go about mindlessly each day and be disengaged is one sure way through which the lies of the devil can quickly seep into my heart and into my thoughts.

•     To what extent do I see myself as involved in a spiritual battle?

Being engaged in ministry, I see how this picture of being in a spiritual battle aptly describes what it looks like from where I stand. In my life and in the life of those that I am ministering to, I see how the devil is actively lying to us and trying to get us to be on his side instead. Whether it’s through lies, that there are other things in the world that would satisfy, that success, wealth, ambition, romance, that these things are better to seek after than God. Every day I see how the devil dangles before us the temptation to leave God and to follow other gods of this world that is seemingly much more promising on the outside.

As I think about the students that we minister to, I see how ministry is really a spiritual battle that I have to fight on my knees for there is really nothing I can do that can change their hearts, in that split second whether they choose to follow God or the other empty promises of this world, whether they choose to either sin or honor God with their lives. Sure there are things we can do to encourage them and help others grow closer to God but ultimately the nature of battle is more spiritual than it is physical. As finals and winter break is around the corner, I am reminded once again that I cannot just have this attitude that I can take it easy now that all of the students are headed for home but instead this is the time where the battle is most crucial, this is the time when the battle is the hardest to fight, because they are far away and this is when I really need to double up in my efforts to pray for them daily so that I can be fully engage in this spiritual battle alongside with them as they are away.

•     What is the significance of Apostle Paul’s repeated call to “stand” (vv. 11, 13, 14)?

Apostle Paul repeatedly calls us to stand in the midst of this spiritual battle. One thought that came to mind is that he didn’t say, go fight, but he called us to stand. One verse that comes to mind is Psalm 1:3 where it describes a tree planted by streams of water. Here is a picture of something that is standing and firmly planted. In the same way that we are called to not be chaff like but firmly planted, we are called to stand in the Lord in the midst of this spiritual battle that is raging all around us. We are called to not abandon our post but instead, when the going gets tough to continue to stand for what we once believe is true.

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