Our last Daily Devotion will be published on Saturday, May 30th.
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Ephesians 6:1-24 (NRSV)
6Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—this is the first commandment with a promise: “so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 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.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus will tell you everything. He is a dear brother and a faithful minister in the Lord. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, to let you know how we are, and to encourage your hearts. Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
My mind immediately wandered to the current pandemic situation when I read verses 11-24. What protection will we need when stay-at-home orders are lifted and we start returning to work, school, church, etc.?
In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus he reminds them that God gives them everything they need to fight the battle against Satan. He wrote this letter when he was in prison, surrounded by Roman guards. No doubt he noticed the armor they wore and realized that the ways God protects us are a lot like armor. The Armor of God is our spiritual defense against attacks by Satan. But if you were to leave home every morning wearing a full suit of armor, you would feel pretty silly (although PPE is getting pretty close!). Fortunately, that’s not necessary. Although invisible, the Armor of God is real, and when used properly and worn daily, it provides solid protection against the enemy’s assault.
In the ancient world, a soldier’s belt not only kept his armor in place but, if wide enough, protected his kidneys and other vital organs. You might say the Belt of Truth holds up our spiritual pants so that we’re not exposed and vulnerable. We can see through Satan’s lies by holding them against the truth of the Bible. Jesus told us “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV)
The Breastplate of Righteousness guards our heart. A wound to the chest can be fatal. That’s why ancient soldiers wore a breastplate covering their heart and lungs. Our heart is susceptible to the injustice of this world, but our protection is the righteousness that comes from Jesus Christ: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)
The terrain was rocky in the ancient world, requiring sturdy, protective footwear. On a battlefield or near a fort, the enemy might scatter barbed spikes or sharp stones to slow an army down. Boots were worn to protect the feet and help a soldier to run bravely into battle. In the same way, Satan scatters traps for us as we’re trying to spread the gospel. The Gospel of Peace is our protection; we can sidestep Satan’s obstacles when we remember “For 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, NIV)
No defensive armor was as important as the shield. It fended off arrows, spears, and swords. Our Shield of Faith guards us against one of Satan’s deadliest weapons: doubt. Satan shoots doubt at us when God does not act immediately or visibly. But our faith in God’s trustworthiness comes from the undeniable truth of the Bible. We hold our Shield of Faith high, confident in the knowledge that God provides, God protects, and God is faithful.
Sometimes Satan tries to discourage us by the evil things he says and does. The Helmet of Salvation protects the head, where all thought and knowledge reside. 1 Corinthians 2:16 tells us that believers “have the mind of Christ.” Even more interesting, 2 Corinthians 10:5 explains that those who are in Christ have divine power to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV) The Helmet of Salvation to protect our thoughts and minds is a crucial piece of armor. We cannot survive without it.
The Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in the Armor of God. This weapon represents the Word of God, the Bible: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV)
Finally, Paul adds the Power of Prayer to the Armor of God. Every smart soldier knows they must keep the lines of communication open to their Commander. Satan hates it when we pray. He knows prayer strengthens us and keeps us alert to his deception. Paul cautions us to pray for others as well. With the Armor of God and gift of Prayer, we can be ready for whatever the Enemy throws at us.
Dear God, we ask for your help in remembering to put on your full armor every day, for you give us all that we need to stand firm in this world. Forgive us for the times we’ve been unprepared, too busy to care, or trying to fight and wrestle with our own strength.
Thank you that we never fight alone, for you are constantly at work on our behalf, shielding, protecting, strengthening, bringing to light what needs to be known, covering us from the cruel attacks we face even when we’re unaware. Amen.