Look around you and ask these questions? What happened to the character of our community? What are you depending on for your future in this world and in eternity? Is it a good job and high rate of pay in one of our industries? This much is clear; you cannot count on a generous employer to give you real security.
Do you place your faith in government? If so, your faith is misplaced! Do you place your faith in the lottery or in one of our many gambling joints? Is that next bet on the video going to bring home your 'big winner'?
Do you place your faith in your own intelligence and skills? When we are young we are foolish and when we get old, the mind becomes murky where it was once clear. Our strength wanes as we approach old age. Where is your faith? Is it based on what you and others can do?
Do you place your faith in church membership with no thought to your own responsibilities to that church? We all do this at times. We get into a rut and forget that there are more important things than our order of worship and reciting the Lord's prayer. The apostle Paul has some Spirit filled advice for us.
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;" Ephesians 6: 10-18
The apostle Paul advises Christian soldiers that in order to stand firm we must oppose the principalities & the powers in the strength of Christ (not our own), and put on the (spiritual) armor of God! Doing this consistently will prepare us for the spiritual warfare! In Phillipians 4.13 (KJV) he says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
Analogy of the squad of soldiers:
Soldiers do not go into battle unprepared if they expect to live. They go through rigorous preparation and training then are sent into battle with leaders with experience. Each has a role to play in the squad and they have been taught to do it Being prepared, they back one another up, having the discipline to obey orders. They work as a unit or are soon vanquished by the enemy. Are you prepared for the battle?
The keys to the abundant life of victory are prayer, study and more prayer.
For we do not fight with the weapons of the world. We do not fight as the world does; on the contrary, we have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretense (exalted thing) that sets itself up against the knowledge of God-and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.
(2 Cor. 10.3-5)
Ephesians chapter 6:
Stand firm by being obedient to Christ, so put on the breastplate of righteousness! God says, "Be ye holy as I am holy" and "If you love me you will obey me." Live righteously by your obedience to God's commands.
Stand firm: knowing that the Word of God is truth: wear the belt! Peter tells us that, "We have not been followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." (2 Peter 1:16)
Stand firm: the gospel (shoes) brings reconciliation to man and peace with God! You have been reconciled and have the "peace that transcends all understanding!" Witness to others with your testimony. We have a ministry of reconciliation and are obligated to share Jesus (2 Cor. 5:18)!
Stand firm: use the shield of faith to quench the fiery darts (of doubt) sent our way! Doubts will not wound us when we have full faith in the promises of God!
Stand firm: put on the helmet of salvation, knowing that you are secure in Christ! IF you are truly saved then "death has lost its sting" and you are heaven bound! God's word says in John 10 28-30, "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
Stand firm: wield the sword of the Spirit by hiding God's word in your heart! Use scripture to defeat the attacks of the enemy just as our Lord did when tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Answer the lies that intrude into your thoughts with scripture. I heard Dr. Charles Stanley say this, "Pray and meditate on these things each day. Visualize putting this armor on even before you rise out of bed in the morning."
Stand Firm: Don't be a helpless victim who is tossed about like a ship caught in the storms of life! You need to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, so now is the time to call on God for salvation (Rom. 10: 9-11, 13) If you realize that the Holy Spirit has been speaking to you today then pray that scripture back to God!
Stand Firm: This is the call to arms: join the battle, fight the fine fight of the faith as the Lord Jesus leads us in an assault on the evil that grips our community! Put on your spiritual armor each day, use the shield of faith to fend off the fiery darts of the evil one, wield the sword of the Spirit to attack him and he will flee from you! You can indeed have "Victory in Jesus!"
Stand firm in the power of the Holy Spirit, the guidance of the Father and the love of our savior, Jesus Christ!
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)