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Ask, seek, knock

Luke 11:9-10  And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

After Jesus had taught His disciples how they should pray (v.2-4), and that they should pray with perseverance (v.5-8), He tells them that if they ask of God they will receive.

If our earthly fathers know how to give us good things, how much more does our heavenly Father know exactly what we need and how to give it to us?  We never have to worry when we pray because the Lord is good and He is capable of providing anything and everything.

Luke’s account of this story does not say that God will give “good things” like Matthew’s (Matthew 7:7-11), but rather that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.  What better gift could we ever receive from God but the gift of Himself?  He is more than we could ever imagine or think to ask for.

The Lord loves to bless His people.  He wants us to ask for all that He has in store for us.  In the end, it brings Him glory.

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You’re equipped with a sword

Ephesians 6:17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

In spiritual warfare, we often find ourselves on the defensive against the enemy’s attacks. We have to protect ourselves when he goes after us, and we do this with truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, and the gospel of peace. We are equipped with an offensive weapon, though.

The one way we fight is with the Word of God. It’s more powerful than just being a book full of words on paper. It’s living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It’s our primary way to make sure we survive spiritual warfare. Knowing, studying, meditating on, and internalizing the Word is preparation for and strategy in the battle.

Not to gloss over the importance of salvation in this fight, the mind is protected by the assurance we have in the cross of Jesus Christ that we are reconciled with God. Out of that flows the drive to fight and the ability to claim victory. It’s in what He’s done, not what we do, that we have that victory.

Spend time with the Word. Rely on the assurance of your salvation in Jesus Christ. Keep fighting the good fight.

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Shield yourself with faith

Ephesians 6:16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one

What sustains you when you face trials in your life? Is it the good works you’ve done? The good books you’ve read? The respect you’ve earned or the status you’ve achieved in your job? How about the possessions you’ve acquired? Or is it faith that keeps you going?

In spiritual warfare, there are offensive measures and there are defensive measures. We are proactive in some ways, and reactive in others. It’s no secret that the enemy of our souls is prone to attack when we are gaining momentum. It should be expected. When that happens, we’ve got to be ready to put up our shields to counter him.

Satan’s attacks can come in the form of doubts, depression, failures, trials, or any number of other struggles. When we’re going through them, they hurt, but faith is effective at keeping him from succeeding.

Faith isn’t just about looking ahead. Sometimes it’s about looking back at how the Lord has kept us up to this point and remember that He always will. Recalling all that He’s done for us is very often the thing that keeps the enemy’s attacks from being effective. Knowing that He’s on our side is very comforting. Keep your shield ready.

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Stand on the gospel of peace

Ephesians 6:15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

Over and over again, when the Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians about battling the enemy, he uses the word “stand.” Since the part of the body that we stand on is our feet, it’s best to pay attention to what he has to say about the armor of God that goes there.

What do you stand on in your Christian faith? Is it your church attendance? Your heritage of having a Christian family? The amount of Scriptures you’ve memorized? Maybe even your good deeds? These things are all good, but they’re not the foundation of following Christ and they’re not going to defeat Satan’s attacks.

There is one main thing around which everything else is revolves, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth of His death, burial, and resurrection is what we stand on. It’s what gives us peace and it’s what prepares us to fight off attacks. Stand firm on the gospel.

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Let your yes be yes

Matthew 5:34-35,37 But I say to you, do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is His footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King…Let what you say be simply “yes” or “no”; anything more than this comes from evil.

There is power in the name of the Lord Jesus. As such, we should not treat His name as just another word. Throwing around the name of our Savior is to use His name in vain. To make an oath by swearing to God cheapens His name. Besides that, though, as followers of Christ, we should not need to swear by anything for our oath to mean something.

This isn’t a legalistic command to refuse taking an oath. It’s a call to live our lives with character.  We should live and practice truth, so much that just saying “yes” or “no” would be taken as an honorable oath.

In order for our yes to be yes, we must give no one reason to believe that we would lie to them. We must live a life set apart from the lies that permeate this world. We’ve got to have character that is so above reproach that there’s no reason to question our honesty.  Give no reason for anyone to doubt your word. By doing so, you bring honor to God.

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Stand on truth

Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness

Though the spiritual battle rages on, we have nothing to be afraid of. The Lord has provided us with everything necessary to claim victory in the name of Jesus Christ.

As followers of the Savior, we have something that the world lacks. We have truth, the real truth. One thing the gospel provides for us is insight into the will of God for mankind. It’s His intention to see people repent of their sin, turn to Him, and be reconciled. The truth also reveals that Satan can’t win against the one true God. If we’re centered in the truth, we’re on firm ground.

We’ve also been equipped by our Commander in this battle with righteousness. We’re incapable of obtaining right standing on our own because we’re broken and sinful, but because Jesus Christ laid down His life and paid our ransom, we’re “not guilty” in the eyes of the Judge. That righteousness puts us right where we need to be, on God’s side, with His protection.

And if God is on our side, who can possibly stand against us?

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Take up the whole armor of God

Ephesians 6:12-13 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.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Who are your enemies? Do you have people that always seem to stand in your way? People who just don’t like you? They’re not the real enemy.

There’s a whole lot going on in this world that we don’t see with our eyes. The spiritual forces at work are the ones to be concerned about. The enemy of your soul, Satan, has his evil set against you and against God’s will being carried out. He’ll stop at nothing to win. But in the end, he can’t win.

Satan, even with his armies of darkness, is no match for the King of Kings. The omnipresent, omniscient, all-powerful Creator wins. That doesn’t stop the evil one from trying though. He’s after you and anyone else who professes to follow Christ. We’re soldiers in a war and it’s important that we are armed properly.

We stand firm in this war because we know the Lord is on our side. We know that we’re armed and ready to take on the spiritual forces that oppose us because we’ve been equipped by God himself. We can walk bravely into battle, knowing that He has already won the war. His victory on the cross is our victory. Stand firm.

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This is war

Ephesians 6:10-11 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Life is not always what it seems to be. There are battles going on that we don’t see, schemes being put into play, and even protection we’re not aware of.

We’re in the middle of a war and it’s to be taken seriously. There’s no getting around the fact that God’s enemy, our enemy, Satan, is at work to destroy the plans of our Creator. We can’t stand by idly and allow him to take out families, marriages, ministries, and ultimately souls. We need to open our eyes.

The thing is, this isn’t an evenly matched war. Satan is not the evil version of God. He doesn’t have the might of God, the knowledge or the abilities of God. He’s incapable of victory. The strength of the Lord is our strength. If we take up the armor He’s provided for us, we have victory. We will prevail against all attacks.

We’ll talk more about the armor we’ve been given over the next few days. In the meantime, consider what it means to be on God’s side during this war.

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Serve everyone

Ephesians 6:9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

Just as with the preceding verses to this one, people have often used this to justify the notion that the Bible upholds slavery. No! Read it again.

This passage isn’t saying “own slaves.” The fact is that many people during the time period in which this letter was written by Paul found themselves slaves for whatever reasons. It could have been because they had a debt that they couldn’t pay or that they couldn’t afford to take of their child so they sold them into slavery. No matter what the reason, there were people who were the servants of other people.

That’s not the point of Paul’s message, though. He’s not speaking on the right to own a slave or on the reasons for being one. He’s talking about loving and respecting everyone, regardless of your standing of your position. If you’re under someone’s authority (and we all are), obey them and respect them. If you’re over someone in a position of authority, show them respect and care for them, don’t mistreat them.

In the eyes of God, there is no distinction between the master and the servant. He is the Master over all. That means no one is in a position to treat others badly, especially if they call themselves a child of God. Most people don’t have servants or slaves today, but we do have bosses and subordinates. Regardless of which of those we’re dealing with, the command is the same: treat them with the love of God and with respect.

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Contending the faith

Jude 1:3 “Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people.”

The devil loves nothing more, he has no better trick up his sleeve, than to take the truth and twist it into a lie. The devil tried this with Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus didn’t try to argue with the devil. He didn’t plead his case with reasons why the devil was wrong. He didn’t even insult the devil. He simply answered his twisting of the truth, with the absolute Word of God.

The devil roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, and many times he hides himself in sheep’s clothing. This is why it’s so important for us to shepherd the sheep that God has entrusted us with. Especially with those who waiver in their faith, who still have one foot in the world, who’s lives are still contaminated with sin.

This is why it’s absolutely ok to defend the faith when we hear something that doesn’t line up with scripture. No matter if it’s someone in your church, or a a prominent figure leading a mega- church. If what they are saying doesn’t line up with scripture, it’s our duty to rebuke that teaching and protect those who are susceptible to believing the lie.

Notice I said rebuke. I didn’t say condemn, judge, or insult. Just like we hate the sin not the sinner, we don’t attack the person but the lie. It says in Jude 1:9 “But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” We have no place to accuse (which is what the devil does best) but to simply correct a lie with the truth.

I’m not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of us would say that no matter what the repercussions might be. So why is it when we hear a popular figure say something that is unbiblical we become so fearful of what people might say if we rebuke it? Listen, this is a plank in the eye moment for me. I’m as guilty and convicted as you might be right now.

Will you do something with me this week? Jesus has commissioned us with spreading the Good News, but he has also given us the duty of guarding the flock (Acts 20:28). Would you contend the faith this week?

Equipping believers to follow Christ and make Him known