Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15, 2012 … Christian Living – Always a Battle

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 350

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Ephesians, Chapters 1-6 ... To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passages: Ephesians, Chapters 1 - 5 : [NLT] … {This letter, also written by Paul from his imprisonment in Rome in about 61 AD, was a letter to Christians, … this one a letter of encouragement to Christians in a body of believers in an around Ephesus, where Paul had helped establish home churches in this area of Asia Minor in 53 AD. This letter was NOT a letter to combat particular church problems, like his prison epistles to the Colossian Christians, it was written more to help the Ephesians stay on track and encourage them to collectively grow in their faith. The Parsons Commentary I use to help me in these morning devotionals lays out a summary of Chapters 1-5 of Ephesians in this way. Hopefully this will help you as you read through the first five chapters of Paul’s letter to the Christians near Ephesus, a group of people he obviously dearly loved.} …

  “After a warm greeting (1:1, 2), Paul affirms the nature of the church—the glorious fact that believers in Christ have been showered with God’s kindness (1:3-8), chosen for greatness (1:9-12), marked with the Holy Spirit (1:13, 14), filled with the Spirit’s power (1:15-23), freed from sin’s curse and bondage (2:1-10), and brought near to God (2:11-18). As part of God’s “household,” we stand with the prophets, apostles, Jews, Gentiles, and Christ himself (2:19–3:13). Then, as though overcome with emotion by remembering all that God has done, Paul challenges the Ephesians to live close to Christ, and he breaks into spontaneous praise (3:14-21). Paul then turns his attention to the implications of being in the body of Christ, the church. Believers should have unity in their commitment to Christ and their use of spiritual gifts (4:1-16). They should have the highest moral standards (4:17–6:9). For the individual, this means rejecting pagan practices (4:17–5:20), and for the family, this means mutual submission and love (5:21–6:9). ”  

Highlight Passages: Ephesians 6: 10-20 : [NLT] … {In Ephesians 6, verses 10-20 is a passage I would never be able to bypass without some special focus. It is the “full armor of God” passage, where Paul, using word pictures taken from the armament of Roman soldiers, tries to show the Ephesian Christians that the Christian life is a battle, requiring the body of Christ, i.e., the Church, to be fully dressed and prepared for battle against our spiritual enemies – Satan, the world, and the flesh. It reminds these Christians that this battle is a fight for our very lives, in this life, but also in the heavenly realms where Christians can only be successful if they wear their defensive armament – the full armor of God, always carrying/using a sharpened and practiced sword of the Spirit (i.e., the word of God), as well as taking the high ground for battle, which is prayer. My blogging below will focus on this section of this letter; and I’ll trust that you use the link above to read, study, and meditate on this passage of the letter. 

My Journal for Today: My little Dutch wife has a saying she often repeats when she confronts the battles of this life. She says, “Life’s always a fight!” And she’s right, isn’t she?!

And Paul recognized this and wrote about the spiritual warfare Christians face daily in this letter to a beloved group of Christians near Ephesus - Ephesians 6, verses 10-20. I hope you’ve taken the time to digest or re-study this passage, because it’s rich with exhortation and information about how to use God’s grace to combat our spiritual enemies, which includes our own flesh, of course.

And as Paul was writing this section of his letter, he used a vivid word picture, that of the armament worn by Roman soldiers and about their swordsmanship as well as their strategy of taking and holding the high ground in battle. In Eph. 6: 10-13, Paul reminds Christians (i.e., us included) that we’re daily in a battle involving the spiritual realms as well as in the here-and-now. Then he launches into a discussion about the defensive armor Christians need to PUT ON for battle to protect our character as Christians against Satan, the world, and our own wicked hearts (see Jer. 17: 9).

And Paul singles out each piece of armor and teaches how it protects or empowers some component of our Christian character … 
...  Eph. 6: 14a – the belt of truth, holding together our INTEGRITY
… Eph. 6: 14b – the breastplate of righteous, which protects our PURITY
… Eph. 6: 15 – the shoes of Gospel peace, allow us to stand in battle with SURETY
… Eph. 6: 16 – the shield of faith, which gives us CERTAINTY to stand with our fellow Christians in Battle
… Eph. 6: 17a – the helmet of salvation, protecting our SANITY, knowing that Christ always protects the surrendered minds of Christians He saves for battle
… In Eph. 6: 17b – we’re reminded of the only offensive weapon we have for battle, the same weapon Christ, Himself, used to fight off Satan (see Matthew 4 or Luke 4), … the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Remember the exhortation of the Author of Psalm 119 (verses 9, 11), which tells believers that the only way to defeat temptation and sin is to hide God’s word deeply in our hearts. And that, my fellow Christian, is carrying, sharpening, and practicing with God’s sword, His word, until no ploy of the enemy or the world or any temptation which wells up from within our own heart/flesh can overcome us.

Finally, in Verses 18-20, Paul reminds the Christians in Ephesus (as wall as you and me) to use God’s primary battle strategy – and that is taking the high ground for battle with prayer. The high ground in battle for the Christian gives him (or her) perspective and allows us to see our weaknesses and to stay in the battle daily. Prayer is God’s strategy to allow us to have His presence with us and to capture His strength for battle.

Today, my friend, you are going into battle for Christ. Are you dressed in His full armor? Are you carrying a well sharpened and practices sword of truth? And have you taken, and are holding, the high ground for battle in prayer? Okay … let’s go to war together today!!!

My Prayer Today: … Lord, I’m ready to do battle today in Your Name. Amen

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