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Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians 6:12’

When I was a Girl Guide in my early teens, we enjoyed a variety of interesting activities, both indoor and outdoor. We also went on hikes and camps, but one thing remained constant, whatever we did. We always wore our Guide uniform, which was a navy-blue dress, with four large pockets. And in those pockets, we carried all sorts of things that might come in handy out in the bush in particular, including a compass, a notebook and pencil, some band-aids, a plastic groundsheet and even a snakebite kit back then! Also, the light-blue tie we wore was made by folding a triangular piece of material in a certain way, so it could double as an arm sling, if needs be. Our Girl Guide motto was, ‘Be Prepared’—and we certainly took that to heart.

This motto came to mind again recently, as I read in Nehemiah how, halfway through rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the Jews became discouraged and afraid when they discovered that their enemies planned to attack them. However, Nehemiah and the other leaders prayed (4:9), then stationed the people in strategic positions, with swords, spears and bows ready, urging them to stand firm.

Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious… Nehemiah 4:14 NLT

With God’s help, the enemy’s plot was foiled, but Nehemiah remained vigilant. He organised half the men to protect the people, while the other half kept labouring to finish the wall. He also ordered the builders to work with their swords strapped on, ready to fight at a moment’s notice, and the labourers to carry all their building materials in one hand and a weapon in the other (4:17-18).

But that was not all. Because the workers were scattered, he organised a man to sound the trumpet to warn everyone, should the enemy attack (4:19-20). Yep, Nehemiah was determined to be prepared—and made sure his people were too.

As I pictured all this military activity in my mind, I realised what a powerful image it is for my life today. I may not have human invaders on all sides, plotting to bring me down. Yet I am well aware of the extremely alert, cunning enemy the Apostle Paul warns us about who constantly seeks to discourage, especially when I set out to tackle something I believe God particularly wants me to do.

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 NLT

I don’t know about you, but, unlike Nehemiah’s men, I need both hands to work on my writing each day! Yet I can still put on the armour Paul goes on to urge the Ephesians—and us—to wear, including the sword of the Spirit, the word of God (Ephesians 6:13-17). And I can pray constantly, just as Nehemiah did and as Paul taught too (6:18). Even as I keep working, I can hold these amazing weapons in my hands, so to speak. And I can also keep trusting in our ‘great and glorious’ God who watches over us, just as Nehemiah did, and not be afraid.

Let’s stay close to God each day, but let’s be armed and prepared too—always.

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A couple of weeks ago, I began preparing two talks for an up-coming teaching morning. The first took many more hours than expected, but, after changing my approach entirely, it seemed I was getting there. The second came together quicker—yet I felt a little uneasy about it. I knew they would still require more work, but at least I now had something substantial on paper.

This week, I began checking the first of these talks again. But as I reached the second page, I became very confused. My notes did not seem to tie in with the accompanying power point presentation I had prepared. What had happened? I seem to have ended up with all these extra points in a strange order. I began crossing out one whole section—how could I have possibly have got it this wrong?

Finally, I stepped back from it all to gain some perspective. Then in a brief moment of clarity, I noticed the heading on the section that seemed so confusing and out of place: ‘The enemy brings doubt and confusion.’ (!)

You see, these two talks are about spiritual warfare and spiritual discernment, about what Scripture says concerning the enemy and what we can learn from this for today. No doubt I should have been ready for the confusion that ensued, but I’m so thankful God graciously opened my eyes to realise what was happening.

Then that night, I had a vivid, disturbing dream. In front of a huge crowd, I was given some music on the spot and asked to play the piano accompaniment as everyone sang. I tried my best, but it all fell apart. Then the master of ceremonies called up someone else from the audience who took my place and played it perfectly, as I stood there in great humiliation.

This time, however, I realised the enemy was up to his old tricks of trying to tap into my pride and my fear of being judged inadequate in some way. I quickly decided that, rather than wallowing in embarrassment, I would ask God to deal with the whole situation.

Later that day, as I again looked over these talks, I began to feel so much doubt sweeping over me. Was what I had prepared really suitable? What if I had completely misunderstood what the women had asked me to do? What if I offended those present with my material? Eventually, I woke up to what the enemy was trying to do. He was heading straight for that self-doubt in me that has been such an issue in the past, trying to make me feel as if I had nothing of worth to share with anyone.

I wonder if you, like me, sometimes forget we are in the midst of a battle each day as we try to stay true to the Lord? In Ephesians 6:12 we read:

Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Yes, the enemy is real. But so is God. Yes, the enemy is strong. But our God is stronger! One day, as Paul tells us in Philippians 2:10, every knee will bow at the name of Jesus and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord!

I can’t wait. How about you?

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