Gentleness – The Right Way to Fight

“Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5)

The Sword of the Spirit is the perfect weapon with which we can fight the evil in our world.  But even armed with such a magnificent sword, careless, clumsy warriors can sometimes hurt themselves or hinder and damage the cause for which they fight.

Paul’s reminder in Philippians that “The Lord is near” ought to inspire us to fight with both great care and a sense of urgency.  In one sense, the Lord is near to us physically and spiritually at all times.  While this is a great comfort in our distress and in the thick of battle, it is also exactly the reminder that we sometimes need when thwarted and frustrated in our attempts to spread the Gospel and combat the wickedness in our world.  When we lose our patience, when our sense of peace is diminished, when the joy has gone out of our ministry…at these times we may not realize that fact that we are under heavy fire from Satan, who is trying to undermine our witness and draw us into sin.  Remembering that God is close at hand both gives us the courage to stand boldly and gently, while also holding us accountable to our Heavenly Father for the words and actions we employ in His service.

The Lord is also near in the sense that He is coming soon, and the fervor of our spiritual battle ought to reflect that fact.  He could return at any moment, and the threat of death constantly surrounds all who dwell in this fallen world.  This is a reminder of how important it is for us to fight urgently and pray fervently for those who do not know Jesus or the saving power of His grace.  Because our emotions can sometimes lead us into despair and sin – even as we fight to spread the Gospel promise – God reminds us to do everything in the spirit of His own peace and gentleness.  We can learn to do this from Jesus and His words: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

God makes gentleness a vital part of our training for spiritual warfare, both in our witness of the Gospel and in our service to one another.  His instructions are clear; we must employ gentleness when wielding the other weapons of faith if we are to be effective and minimize our “collateral damage”:

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1)

Arming a warrior for combat is about more than just putting a weapon in his hands.  Training is a necessary part of the equipping process, both for the protection of the warrior and to ensure his combat effectiveness.  God our Commander has given us excellent weapons of spiritual perfection, and in His grace He thoroughly prepares us for the dangers that lie on the battlefield by teaching us how to use these weapons in the way that will best serve and honor Him.  The gentleness that comes from peace in Christ will guard and protect our hearts and minds from temptation as we move forward into battle with the Gospel of salvation.

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” (Titus 3:1-2)

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant me true gentleness through Your peace as I proclaim the Gospel and minister to my neighbors.  Guard and defend my heart against all anger, wrath, impatience, cruelty, and malice; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord.  Amen.

Patience – Today’s Battle

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)

There is a general sense of arming for battle in this passage, and patience is a key element in the protective gear that is being described here.

Unfortunately, our generation has been subtly stripped of this magnificent armor.  What has happened to patience in our world?  Why is it so difficult to bear with one another in love?  How can we receive forgiveness so richly and abundantly every day and be so stingy when it comes to sharing it with others?

Two words: “instant gratification.”

Satan has launched an aggressive campaign against one of our nine chief spiritual weapons, and it has been devastatingly effective.  We want what we want when we want it – now!  Whether it’s material wealth and possessions, earthly success, answers from God, or even compliance from other human beings in our lives, Satan has rendered most of us nearly incapable of wielding patience as a weapon.

Across the country and throughout the world, Christian couples are finding it more and more difficult to overlook offenses and patiently endure the minor (or major) annoyances of their spouses – we’ve seen the casualties in the broken relationships and divorce statistics.  Christian parents have trouble rearing their children gently and patiently in a world that teaches instant results and entitlement.  Road rage, workplace disputes, and all manner of senseless reactionary violence demonstrate the basic inability to brush off even the most petty and insignificant insults and inconveniences.

Satan’s war on patience has perpetuated every kind of evil imaginable.  Truly, a great many of our social ills are caused by the absence of this virtue.  Much of the conflict and tension in every kind of relationship is due largely to a lack of patience.  And do we really think that our witness and testimony to Christ’s cross goes unaffected by our impatience with those to whom we preach – and with the Holy Spirit?

The key to a patient heart is love.  Whenever we feel ourselves losing patience with our spouse, our child, our coworker, or anyone else, we need to look to the cross.  Mindful of Jesus’ patience with our sinful world, we draw from Him the strength to bear with our loved ones patiently.  Love binds the armor tightly together; without it, our protection falls to the ground and fails.  Along with love, the joy and peace we have through Jesus’ righteousness and salvation will help us to patiently resist whatever temptations and attacks the Devil hits us with.  We can once again take up this keen spiritual weapon, strike down the wicked inclinations of our impetuous hearts, and wait with gladness upon the Lord our Savior.  Where the Devil has disarmed us, the Lord our God equips us mightily through the power of His Word.

“But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16)

“…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:11-12)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as You have dealt with me in patience, help me to also deal with those around me in a manner that reflects Your love; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord.  Amen.

Peace – The Best Defense Part 2

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

If our joy in the Lord is the armor of our souls, then the peace of God completes our protection like a helmet, shield, and bracers.  God’s Word imparts a three-fold protection as the Spirit grants us peace with God, peace with the world, and peace within ourselves.

The Devil seeks to strike at our head by attacking our peace with God.  The despair we feel over our own sins and our doubt in the effectiveness of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice would be a sure deathblow, were it not for the protective covering God has given us in the Gospel of peace.  Because of our sinful condition, peace with God was once impossible.  All of our striving and struggling could not remove the taint of sin that bars us from the presence of our Holy God.  But thanks be to God that Jesus Christ has won the victory for us and made peace once and for all between God and man!  This certain knowledge calms our fears and doubts and imparts the peace of God which protects us from the deadly blows of the Devil’s fatal assault.

But what of the world?  Although we will continue to have struggles, conflicts, and frustrations with other people, the cross of Christ also acts as a shield against these adversities.  Through the power of the Gospel, we can love and care for even those with whom we find ourselves in conflict.  Even if those conflicts persist despite our efforts, we can have peace by trusting in God’s Word and living according to His will.  As we walk in His ways, the Spirit will continue to work through whatever situation we are dealing with for the benefit of all.  We can be at peace knowing that God is in control even when we fail to see the silver lining in our present struggles.  And God even works in some offensive measures through the peace of His people, displaying His own love and light in a dark world as others see our peacefulness and are drawn by it to the cross.

As we enjoy the rich blessings of peace with God and with others, we will also find that God stills our own hearts and minds through His power.  The world bombards us with conflicting messages about “personal fulfillment” and “finding ourselves” and entices us with false paths leading to shallow and empty “peacefulness.”  But God’s Word offers an inner peace that lasts, as we find true fulfillment for our lives in the first two types of peace; by serving God joyfully in a close relationship with Him, and by serving our neighbor with gladness and being at peace with the world (even when the world is not at peace with us!).  Like bracers to protect a warrior’s arms and hands, the inner peace that God grants to us protects our ability to fight for the faith and hold fast to the Sword of the Spirit.

God imparts His peace to us many times throughout the Bible.  It is a blessing that serves as a cloak of protection over our souls.  Coupled with the joy of our salvation, God’s peace will enable us to resist the fiercest attacks that Satan’s forces are able to muster.  In His mercy, God has armed us bountifully for our own protection that we might faithfully march forth into battle for the glory of God and the sake of those who remain lost and in darkness.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank You that through the power of Your Gospel I may be at peace with You, with my neighbors, and with myself.  Grant that this peace may be evident to all, that they would seek Your face and also receive the benefit of Your eternal peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord.  Amen.

Note: For much more information about the topic of “peace” and “peacemaking,” please visit “Peacemaker Ministries.”  You can find a link to their own blog at the bottom of my website (“Route 5:9″), or click here.

Mary – One Thing Needed

“…only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made…” (Luke 10:40)

Several times in the last few years, I have heard the era in which we are currently living referred to as “The Age of Distraction.”  This makes a lot of sense, given the plethora of media outlets, electronic devices, entertainment venues, and various industries that thrive by filling our spare time anything and everything to keep us busy doing something and nothing all at once.  It’s no wonder that it has become so difficult to get young people – or anyone for that matter – to focus on important issues.

But the truth is, the world has always had plenty of distractions to divert our attention away from God and what He wants us to be spending our time doing.  Honestly, it doesn’t take a whole lot.  Our sinful nature makes us predisposed to putting God last and a million other things first.  The issue here is the first commandment; giving our fear, love, and trust – as well as time, money, and attention – to God first.

It’s scary how easily we can slide down the slippery slope of idolatry.  The most frightening part is that this can even happen as we are trying to serve God.  We may feel justified in saying, “Well, I’m on the church council, teach Sunday School, serve refreshments after the service, and head up the altar guild; so I don’t think God will mind if I forget to read my Bible or talk to Him in prayer once in a while.”

But is that what Jesus wants?  “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).  In your walk with God, remember that He is primarily concerned with you.  He wants you to attend worship services so that He can work on you, not the other way around.  In His house, you sit and listen to the life-giving words of our Lord Jesus Christ, just like Mary.  You receive His body and blood through the sacrament of Holy Communion.  You receive the forgiveness of sins and are absolved of your trespasses.  God strengthens and preserves us in His Word.  We praise and serve God out of love and thankfulness to Him only after receiving the good gifts that He serves to us – otherwise we fall into the trap of trying to earn His favor by our own good works.

Martha certainly had good intentions.  However, the results of her efforts should have tipped her off the dangers she was facing.  Jesus came to bring peace and joy; Martha’s service caused her only to be “worried and upset.”  When we find that our own service to God is producing anxiety, resentment, or frustration in our hearts, we’d better take a time-out and sit down with Mary.  Listen to the Savior’s healing words.  Believe His promises.  Grow in the knowledge of His love; then return to your service, refreshed and invigorated, ready to serve Him with gladness and thanksgiving.

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to fear, love, and trust in You above all things.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation through the power of Your Word.  Help me to serve You with a cheerful heart; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord.  Amen.

Manasseh – Chief of Sinners

“But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.” (2 Chronicles 33:9)

Manasseh doesn’t sound very faithful or heroic, does he?  So why include him in a devotional series dedicated to “heroes of the faith”?  I have to admit, when one reads the account of Manasseh’s wickedness, it feels pretty dirty to put him in the company of heroes like Hezekiah and Isaiah.  But then I remember some of the other terrible sinners who God was able to forgive and redeem – Samson, Saul, Andrew Boll – and I am reminded that a faith hero is measured only by the love that God demonstrates through him.

Manasseh’s heinous sins led the entire nation into exile and slavery.  His decision to abandon God and perform terrible acts of idolatry caused him great suffering and shame.  Finally, Manasseh wakes up and realizes that his rejection of God is at the heart of all the troubles he and Judah are facing: “In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.  And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea…Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God” (2 Chronicles 33:12-13).

Manasseh was a legendary sinner, which makes God’s restoration of him to the one true faith one of the greatest displays of His loving, redeeming power in the Old Testament.  Manasseh finally acknowledges God to be the True King, and uses the remainder of his rule to correct many of the wrongs he had earlier committed.  He is a hero of the faith because he shows us today the path to salvation: Repent, and trust in a merciful God for life and restoration.

The depth of Manasseh’s sins shows all the more the awesome power and love of a God who would go all the way to the cross for the sake of miserable sinners like you and me.  Like Manasseh, in our state of defeat and bondage we turn toward the hills, looking for a Deliverer.  What a glorious sight when we see the Son rising there, swooping down upon our enemies to bring us freedom and hope!

“Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace!” (Nahum 1:15)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank and praise You for the example of sinners as wretched and miserable as I am who show me the power of Your love to redeem.  Grant that I may always turn to You for deliverance from the bondage of sin.  Help me to bring the good news of peace and life to everyone around me today, through Jesus Christ, Your Son.  Amen.

Shemaiah – Interceding for Peace

“Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance.” (2 Chronicles 12:7)

It isn’t often that we find anyone in Judah or Israel listening to the Lord during the reign of Rehoboam and Jeroboam.  The kingdom had been torn apart because of the sins of Solomon, his son, and all of Israel.  Because of the rebellion against God by David’s heirs, Rehoboam finds that ten tribes of Israel have rebelled against him.  Worship of false gods becomes rampant as David’s faithful example gives way to idolatrous leadership.

Yet even while both Judah and Israel rebel against the Lord God, He provides an intercessor for peace on their behalf.  He sends his servant Shemaiah to King Rehoboam as he is about to march north with a hundred and eighty thousand men set on wresting the kingdom back from the rebellious tribes: “This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites.  Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’ So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered” (1 Kings 12:24).

Shemaiah’s intercession for peace in the midst of sinful rebellion is reminiscent of the greater Man of God, Jesus Christ.  Even in the midst of our rebellion, God sent His Son to give us peace; peace with Him, peace with our neighbors, and peace in our own hearts through the forgiveness of sins.  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  God’s love for us didn’t stop on account of our rebellion.  Rather, it was our sinful rejection of Him that led to the ultimate display of love at Calvary.

As Rehoboam establishes his reign, he gradually abandons God and walks into disaster.  But God equips Shemaiah with His Word, and through this Word the man of God is able to soften even these hard hearts and turn them to repentance.  God has mercy on Rehoboam and Judah: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance” (2 Chronicles 12:7).  Because Rehoboam turns back to God, the remainder of his rule is blessed and God gives him faithful children to rule after him for three generations.  But God gives more than earthly deliverance to Rehoboam.  Through the Law, God turns the hearts of Judah to repentance and saves them through the Gospel by faith in Him and in the Messiah that would soon come and give deliverance to the whole world.

Though he is spoken of little in Scripture, Shemaiah is a hero of the faith in every way.  He preaches God’s just and perfect Law along with His righteous judgment to the people, and he also points ahead toward Jesus by proclaiming the Gospel of peace and salvation.  He reveals the same pattern of a loving God that all faith heroes demonstrate; One who gives us peace now and forever through forgiveness by God’s grace.

“The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.  They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness.  He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever – holy and awesome is his name.” (Psalm 111:7-9)

Prayer: Lord, help me ever to be a man of God, faithfully proclaiming Your Law and assuring repentant sinners of Your Gospel.  Send out Your Word to soften the hard hearts of our world, that all may turn to You in faith; through Jesus Christ, Your Son.  Amen.

Boaz and Ruth – The Warrior and the Refugee

“[Boaz replied], ‘May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.’” (Ruth 2:12)

In many wars, the surrounding regions are flooded with refugees – people seeking sanctuary from the darkness and death flooding their country of origin.  Under the code of chivalry, a true knight was to offer protection and sustenance for these helpless souls who were beset by sorrow and trouble.

Ruth is certainly one such refugee.  While it’s possible that her husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law were killed in military service, we don’t know for certain that her home country of Moab was engaged in war at the time.  But we do know that the same spiritual warfare that continues today was present in her own time and region.  She was afflicted by death, sorrow, and famine – great captains and generals in Satan’s army.  But most of all, she was fleeing an enemy that she could never overcome on her own – sin.  Her flight takes her to the land of the Israelites, the people of God, where she is rescued by one of the faithful warriors of God the King; Boaz.

Ruth finds earthly redemption through Boaz’s kindness.  She once again has a home, family, and reputation.  But it was through their descendant and promised Messiah that she and her husband would find true redemption.  While Ruth was fleeing earthly sorrow and trouble, Boaz and all of the faithful Israelites were refugees as well, fleeing the consequences of an assault by the same curse of sin that oppressed Ruth.  Through their faith in the coming Christ, God covers them with His righteousness and gives them peace and sanctuary – and a far better eternal refuge in their heavenly home.

We too, like Ruth and Boaz, battle against a deadly enemy: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11).  Like Boaz and Ruth, our faith rests assured in Jesus’ death and resurrection: “But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).  Although the world was once our home, we have been redeemed and brought into the community of God’s holy people through Jesus’ blood.  We are free from the enemy that has haunted and plagued our lives, enabling us to live in peace as we journey toward our true home and final place of refuge.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank and praise You for giving refuge in Your Son to poor, lost sinners like me.  Help me to be a true and faithful warrior, sharing the refuge that I have in Him with all those who are fleeing the enemies of sin, death, and the Devil.  Keep me ever vigilant to come to the aid of those in physical, emotional, and spiritual distress.  Give me grace to do the works that will glorify Your name, through Jesus Christ, my Lord.  Amen.

Deborah – Uniting God’s Army

“Go!…Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” (Judges 4:14)

One of the ways in which God uses His judges to deliver His people is by sending them as a herald of unity.  During Deborah’s times, the Israelite men were scattered across the nation, made timid by their own weakness and the nine hundred iron chariots of the enemy.  God sent the prophetess Deborah to proclaim His Word, assuring His children of deliverance and relief.  This promise made the hearts of the warriors bold once more, uniting them in purpose and faith behind the God who had always gone before them in power and majesty.

It’s amazing how easily God’s children become disobedient and rebellious, divided in spirit and purpose, and intimidated by wicked foes.  Thanks be to God for Deborah and other heroes of the faith who boldly proclaim His Word and ignite zeal and unity in scattered spiritual warriors.  All Christians, regardless of creed or denomination, share a love of the Gospel message and fight the same spiritual foes.  God does not tell us that we should fight only alongside those who are in exact agreement with our every thought – in fact, quite the opposite: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (Philippians 2:1-2).

God’s orders specifically tell us to seek and find reasons to be united with other Christians, and all of these reasons are rooted in Jesus Christ and flow from Him: encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness, and compassion.  He doesn’t say that we should ignore our differences in doctrine and beliefs, but rather should continue to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), diligently examine the Scriptures (Acts 17:11), and to search the Word of God for its life-giving testimony about Jesus Christ (John 5:39).  But even as we continue to strive for unity in all things, we must remain united in our faithful proclamation of repentance and forgiveness, by grace through faith.  Just as God’s promise through Deborah emboldened the Israelites and united them in purpose, so God’s promise through His Son Jesus gives His warriors today strength of heart and unity of spirit.

“My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me…May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-21,23)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, unite the hearts of Your warriors that we may follow Jesus boldly, striking out with Your Word against unbelief, ungodliness, and despair.  Grant that all Your children may deal kindly and compassionately with each other out of love for You, that the world will see Your love reflected in all that we do.  Guard us against schisms and divisions, and heal the wounds in the body of all believers through the faithful study and proclamation of Scripture, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Othniel – The Hand of Deliverance

“But when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer…” (Judges 3:9)

It’s a timeless theme: I’ve done something stupid and now I’m trapped by the consequences, waiting for a hero to come and rescue me.  The Israelites often became slaves and prisoners because of their own rebellion and unbelief.  This angered God; they were hurting themselves and their children, and dishonoring Him as well.  Yet in His unconditional love, God continually sent warrior heroes to rescue those who had turned against Him.

Othniel, the first of the great “judges” to lead Israel, was a spiritual warrior as well as a military leader.  In his role as the one sent by God to deliver His people, Othniel holds the honor of clearly pointing forward to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Just as he is sent by God to redeem Israel from the bondage caused by their rebellion and disobedience, so would God later send Jesus to redeem all mankind from the bondage of sin, and even death and hell – the consequences of our rebellion.

Othniel was able to do such great things because “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him” (Judges 3:10); Jesus would do far greater things after having the Spirit descend upon Him in the form of a dove.  With God’s strength, Othniel overcame the wicked king of Aram and his armies; Jesus conquered Satan and all of his minions.  Othniel brought peace to the Israelites for forty years; Jesus is our Prince of Peace, and His own innocent blood has purchased our eternal peace with God.

Thankfully, God continues to raise up spiritual warriors and heroes of the faith even today.  In times of disobedience and unbelief, God hears the cries of His people and sends men and women who toil ceaselessly on behalf of the Gospel.  Perhaps He has even called you to be such a warrior.  But however great our struggles in this fallen world, we can be assured that God’s greatest Hero, Jesus Christ, has permanently disarmed and defeated the powers of darkness.  He has freed us from the bondage of sin and death, and valiantly comes to our rescue when we cry out to Him in time of temptation or need.  To Him be the glory forever!

“The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:22)

Prayer: I thank and praise You, Lord God, for providing Your Church with warriors who fight to defend Your truth.  Grant that I may be numbered among those who serve you well.  Let me always look to Your Son, Jesus Christ, for forgiveness and strength in the midst of spiritual battles, continually directing those around me to His life-giving cross.  Deliver from bondage the hearts of all those who rebel against Your Word – through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

The Boots of Readiness

“…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15)

Let’s see; awesome belt…check.  Indestructible breastplate…check.  Footwear…hmm…

I’ll be honest; even with the fantastic pieces of armor already described, I’d be a bit wary about setting foot onto a battlefield without something to cover my tootsies.  We stand peering out of our tent flaps, reluctant to step forward.  Our motivation comes in the form of steel-pleated boots that God straps onto our soles (or souls?); supple, flexible footwear that comes straight from the forges of the Master Craftsman (Psalm 139:14).

What gives God’s warriors the motivation to charge forward into a world filled with darkness and tribulation?  It can only be the “gospel of peace” to which Paul refers.  Knowing what God has done for us, how can a believer do anything but leap into action when an opportunity to share the Gospel presents itself?  As Martin Luther said, “In he have faith, the believer cannot be restrained.  He betrays himself.  He breaks out.  He confesses and teaches this gospel to the people at the risk of life itself.”

The Gospel gives us peace; peace with God through repentance and forgiveness, peace with our fellow man through Christian unity and reconciliation, and peace within our own hearts through a right relationship with our Maker and a sense of purpose in our lives.  It’s also true that the Gospel will continue to cause division, conflict, and controversy in a sinful world because many people will reject the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  However, there could be no hope for peace of any sort without this saving Gospel message, and we would have neither the courage nor the desire to daily go forth into spiritual battle.

Most especially in the Easter season and throughout the year as well, Christ’s sacrifice of love urges and compels us to show love to our neighbors.  “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  We can “lay down our lives” for those around us by abandoning selfish interests and recklessly proclaiming the good news of Christ crucified for our transgressions.  May our feet be always ready to stand against the darkness of unbelief and despair, to bring light to the prisoners in the enemy’s dungeon, and to rush to the aid of those in need of spiritual assistance.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15)

Prayer: Dear Lord, give me a heart that is daily rejoicing in the good news of Your Son’s all-atoning sacrifice.  Keep my feet ever ready to perform whatever good works of love You have prepared for me.  Thank you for the peace that comes from knowing I have been reconciled to You and can come to You in prayer, through Jesus Christ, my Lord.  Amen.