Friday, February 8, 2013

Food for the Soul, Pt. 3 – Armor of God

 Ephesians 6:11 (NKJV) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

The first time I read this verse it struck a very deep cord in me. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” I liked the sound of that. I needed to know more about God’s armor, so I studied Ephesians 6:13-18 (NKJV) over and over again for months. I wrote the verses down and took careful measure to look up every item on the list, noting what each item meant in biblical terms. I wanted to be sure that I knew exactly what I needed to arm myself with the “whole armor of God.” I could not afford to miss anything as the devil prides himself on being a tireless opponent.
Okay…so now what? I have my list…how do I get the armor? Confused and a little dismayed, I continued to read the verses over and over again. I somewhat understood what God was saying in the sense of what was needed to sustain ourselves during attacks from the devil, but I did not understand how to obtain the armor itself. I read the bible verses again. And I continued studying my list. I spoke with fellow Christians, Evangelists, Elders and a Deaconess, but no one could clearly tell me how to get my armor. I was so disappointed. Why can’t anyone tell me how to get God’s armor for myself? So I began to pray for understanding of the verses I’d been studying. After saying my prayers I tried not to think about it anymore, but my mind continued to search for answers.

My imagination takes over. I envision myself being in mid-evil times looking around, seeing many people walking along muddy paths tending to their business as I take in the various sights, sounds and smells of the time. There were tents all around and vendors selling their wares. There were huge hay stacks like giant teepees for the animals to feed and wooden carts on large wooden wheels carrying clay pots, linens and metal objects. There were also massive horsemen riding around on angry horses scaring all the people, threatening harm if they did not follow the king’s rules. I can see myself hiding in a corner placing the breast plate of righteousness on my chest and girding my waist with the truth, looking down to make sure my feet were shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace and leaning over to take up the shield of faith with which I will be able to quench the fiery dart of the wicked one, also taking my helmet of salvation and my sword of the spirit which is the word of God. I was preparing for battle. Wow…what a vision. God is trying to show me something. So I prayed and gave thanks for the vision that He gave me. But I still needed to know more. 
Days, weeks and months go by. I struggle through life holding on to God with all that I have. Hoping upon hope that He will see me through. I’m still studying my bible verses and I’m working diligently to increase my prayer time. I read Ephesians 6:13-18 (NKJV) occasionally, but not with the same fervor as before. Instead of focusing on God’s armor, I put my energy into weathering the continual storms of life. So much so that I stressed myself right into the hospital. Just a few nights before I ended up in the hospital I had fallen to my knees trembling with exhaustion and fear. I was completely ravaged and in desperate need of God’s salvation and deliverance. He granted me that, but not without a lesson learned. You see, God offers us salvation, peace and rest in Him who is God’s holiest and most faithful servant, Christ Jesus. John 13:6 (NKJV) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”
Jesus is never far from us, only a breath away. It is with this breath that we ask Jesus for all that we need and His reply to us is this, John 14:13-14 (NKJV) “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” I asked for the armor of God. And in doing so, the Lord began preparing me to receive God’s armor. You may wonder why many times there is a waiting period between our requests to God and His answers. Often times we have to be prepared to receive what we ask for. It is by preparation that we are able to recognize when our prayers are being answered.  
I used to run and hide every time trouble came my way or even at the slightest warning. I would hide with great fear and trembling, begging God to help me, lamenting about my unworthiness to receive any of his goodness; yet giving thanks for whatever He graciously gave to me as, if a dog thanking his master for a bone. God wanted me to see how much He is willing to do for me…for all of us. How He waits patiently, knowing what is coming and knowing our reactions. He waits for us to turn to Him and ask for what we need. He wants us to trust in Him. He does not want us to lose hope…but to have hope, one must have faith. This may seem like a tall order, but all we need is a mustard seed of faith to receive that which we ask. Matthew 17:20 (NKJV) So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
It was on a Saturday morning, while spending time in prayer and thanksgiving, God gave me a revelation. The revelation was the realization of a profound change that occurred in me as a result of events that took place six months prior to that day. It was during the trial of my hospitalization and recovery that I turned to God and asked Him to help me manage my stress. It was then that I humbled myself before God and admitted to Him that I could not handle all that was needed of me by myself. I needed Him and I wanted to say it to Him. I’ve always needed God, but did not put my full trust in Him. I did not have much hope back then either. My faith had yet to grow to the size of a mustard seed.
I wept and turned everything over to God in the name of Jesus Christ. I released all of my worries and woes. I released all stress and anguish. I began to understand the pureness of God’s love and how to serve Him in a loving way…in the way that Jesus loves and serves as we are all servants to the Father. I was made whole and became free. God is cultivating my faith and so it grows to someday be the size of a mustard seed. It is in my faith that I find hope, joy and peace. And it is hope, joy and peace that I dwell. As for the armor of God, he is still working with me on that. But now I know how His armor will be given to me. It is through trial and longsuffering that I will receive the whole armor of God. And it is with this armor that I will do battle until glory comes.

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