Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:10-20
A Great Start for Your Morning
I LOVE this text. When I visit with people who are going through a struggle with daily living, I always encourage them to read this passage from Ephesians the first thing in the morning, EVERY DAY. EVERY DAY. I tell them to start their morning off with this passage, because it will remind them that no matter what happens to them that day, that they will know that they are loved, cared for and PROTECTED with God’s Armor.
Use God’s Armor
When I was in college I coached a peewee football team at the local elementary school. Since I was the new guy, I was given all of the misfit kids that wanted to play, but really had no idea of what they were doing. The first day, one of my kids even put his helmet on backwards. I had to stop and explain what each piece of equipment was for, and why it was important.
The same holds true for the Gospel Armor, each piece is important and together they help to protect us from “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Now that we have increased our daily prayer lives with our 3:16 daily prayer, let’s add some extra protection for this ministry by wrapping it in God’s armor.
Rich in Faith, Hope and Trust
When I visited Tanzania for the first time, I was struck by the severe poverty and lack of material resources. When I looked around all I could see is what they did not have. Yet, by the third day, everything changed. Instead of seeing what they lacked, all I could see was what they had. Suddenly, I saw how rich they were in faith, hope, and trust, and how poor I was in comparison.
When we visited a new Lutheran secondary school built by the diocese we learned that their bishop came up with the idea to build a residential school on the top of a beautiful mountain. However, before moving forward with the project, the bishop encouraged the entire community to pray about the project for one full year. Their corporate prayers would ask for God’s affirmation, direction, and support.
During that year, people would climb to the top of the mountain to pray in the spot of the future school. As they prayed, each person would dig out a rock from the mountainside and leave it on the ground. By the time, the year of prayer ended, the rocks needed for the foundation of the dormitory were already unearthed and ready for construction.
As we begin a new chapter in our ministry and mission here at Grace
… it seems fitting to use the witness of our Tanzanian brothers and sisters in Christ as our model. In order for our plans and goals to be fruitful, they must be built on the foundation of prayer and discernment of God’s will.
Therefore, I am inviting you to join your community of faith in forty days of intentional prayer. Beginning on Sunday August 19th, 2018, please set aside 3:16pm each day to pray for our mission here at Grace.
Pray that God will direct our path forward.
Pray that God will help us discern a vision.
Pray that God will give us the courage to move into new and uncharted territory.
Let us open ourselves to God’s voice and call.
On the thirteenth day after Christmas, Christians celebrate The Epiphany of Our Lord, which means that the Epiphany of our Lord is always on January 6. The word Epiphany means manifestation. It is on this day that we celebrate the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem to pay homage to the Christ child. It is also on the days after the Epiphany that we recount Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River and his first miracle of changing water into wine. Of course, we know that Jesus manifests himself in so many ways to his disciples in the world today; but during these days prior to the beginning of Lent (which comes in early February this year) we have the opportunity to reflect upon how it is that we, as Jesus’ disciples, can make him known to others in our communities and throughout the world.
Even if you find it difficult to verbally witness to others about Jesus, you still have numerous opportunities to witness through your actions and deeds of kindness to others. One way to start that requires no risk-taking is by praying for those who are experiencing prejudice, abuse, or neglect; and what about those who are depressed, or ill, or grieving. Praying for them by name is empowering both for you and for those for whom you are praying. Make a habit every day of praying for others by name, because this personalizes our prayers and brings us closer to those who need to know that they are important to God and to us.
Another way to witness about Jesus to others does require some risk; but it is worth it. Be a volunteer in the community; you can certainly start in your own congregation with the ministries that Grace supports. Doing something to actually bring hope to another person helps us to understand Jesus’ compassion and love for humanity. It also helps to widen our own perspective of what it means to be a good neighbor, even to those whom we either don’t know, or hardly know. The more we do for others, the easier it becomes to take those risks to manifest, or make Christ known in both deed and word.
If you have made no other resolution for this year, make this one: To be bold in your witness on behalf of the one you call Lord.
Yours in Christ,