If any of you speakers want to take it and preach it as your own, God bless you. All I have is yours...just give God the glory. I know it's a long post, but what can I say, I'm a long-winded preacher. (SMILE)
Here we go...
"All Dressed up and Somewhere to Go!" I believe God wants to take us to unbelievable places in Him this next year. Something great – something of incredible increase is in store as we seek Him. A key to success is being dressed for the occasion. How we are dressed for an occasion speaks of what we expect to happen.
I love to dress up! Always have. As most of you know, I get excited about clothes. What we are wearing actually tells us something about what’s getting ready to happen.
When I’m going to speak somewhere, I don’t show up in my workout sweats and a t-shirt. I'm a woman on a mission and I want to make a first impression. At the same time, when I go to Clearwater Beach, I don’t show up in a pantsuit that I just wore to speak in. When I pull out the Victoria’s Secret clothes, well...you know. Actually that would be all about getting unclothed…
If you’re reading Song of Solomon you’re probably getting the message that you should be unclothed a lot of the time, but read the rest of the Bible and most of the time God is talking about us being clothed. Earlier this year on Sunday mornings, Pastor and I did a preaching series, “What Not to Wear” and basically talked about what the Lord commanded us to wear (love, humility, etc.) and what he said to take off. (bitterness, jealousy, unforgiveness, etc.)
Tonight I want to talk about something we must put on in this new year if we are going to step into the increase that he has for us. It goes along with this week of increase prayer that we have just experienced.
TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-17
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For 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. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Paul said to put on the full armor of God – to clothe ourselves.
WE ARE IN A FIGHT…THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES! The Christian has not even begun to fight until we have learned to pray.
We need to be reminded – we are not on a playground, we are on a battlefield. We are in the absolute fight of our lives. There is no room for laziness when it comes to prayer and putting on the full armor of God, for too much is at stake.
Your life – your family – your church, not just it’s increase but it’s very life – it’s very survival – depends on our intercession and our being dressed properly, spiritually.
The enemy wants us to be stupid Christians, totally clueless about what he is capable of. The bible says in II Corinthians 2:11, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices.
Did you know one of the main reasons you need to be filled with the Holy Ghost? He doesn't just fill you to blabber on in tongues. He fills you for purpose, and one of those purposes is so that you won't have to be clueless. The Holy Ghost has come to TEACH YOU.
You can’t be ignorant of how the enemy fights.
How many of you have ever been in a fight? Some of you might be able to teach this better than me depending on how many people you beat up at the bus stop…
But although I haven’t been in too many physical fights, I’ve done plenty of wrestling with my boys and this has taught me a thing or two.
First of all, you’ve got to keep your hands up – and stay on your guard. A fighter cannot just fight, but must protect themselves from the fatal blows of the opponent. Not only that but you have to always be on guard for that left hook. Just when you think you’ve got something all figured out and get a little comfortable, BAM!
Realize, out of the six things we are going to talk about on the armor of God that are used for warfare, only five of them are for defense and one is used for offense. This means the majority of the fight is about standing firm – defending ourselves against the devil’s schemes. What does the Bible say...after you've done all to stand........STAND.
1) THE BELT OF TRUTH.vs. 14 says stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.
Believe it or not the Bible talks about "spiritual spanx." Support undergarments are spoken of in the Word of God. The "belt" is sometimes called a girdle. The first thing a soldier needs is the belt…just about everything a soldier needs is carried in their belt or girdle.
They might have every other thing with them but without the belt, all of other stuff would have no place to firmly attach.
You see, the belt was not for show or adornment – it secured everything. That's what a girdle does. Paul said that truth is the element in the Christian life that holds everything together. It’s the great girdle of Christianity.
The Hebrew word for truth is spelled with three letters, and they are the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The truth of God is the beginning, middle and end of life. Truth is everything.
We must be walking in the truth, living and walking in the truth of God’s Word…
I like to watch Lifetime TV sometimes and one thing you often see on a Lifetime movie is, “based on a true story.” It’s not completely accurate, but perhaps loosely based on a situation that happened. Too many Christians are living a life just “based on a true story” but not completely walking and living in God’s truth. My life is not just “based on Jesus” – my life IS Jesus. His truth is the only truth. In Him I live and move and have my being.
Are we really living in the truth of God’s Word and in His fullness or are we just tacking him on to whatever else we’re doing in life? God wants to lead us into His fullness…this only comes by walking in truth - the truth of God's Word - and having Him AS your life, not as a PART OF your life.
2) THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
A breastplate was worn over the heart to protect against disabling wounds—made of leather and covered with copper or tin.
A breastplate guards the heart which is the center of a man or woman and their source of life. You can live without a gallbladder, without an appendix, without quite a few other things on your body but you can’t live without a heart. It must be protected at all costs.The breastplate guards the center of our spiritual life which is our heart. What is at the center of your heart? For some it is envy, greed, lust, bitterness, etc. and for others who are walking in righteousness it is integrity and holiness.
In addition to living in the truth of God’s Word we have to guard our heart…and be righteous.
The Bible says that victory is in store for the upright, or the righteous. I have seen so many believers go around saying, “God’s gonna give me the victory! He said he would arise, his enemies would be scattered…and God is going to fight for me…blah blah blah”
The truth is, God fights on behalf of the righteous. He doesn’t just fight on behalf of those who are members of a church. I have seen so many church people convinced God is giving them the victory and meanwhile they are exhibiting behaviors that are so unrighteous. I have literally pastored people who say, “I just can’t forgive them but I know God is fighting on my behalf…” oh really??? Interesting theology there...
It’s amazing what we think we will accomplish without righteousness.
The truth is God increases and blesses those who are refusing to wear the worldly garments of envy, jealousy, bitterness, gossip, unforgiveness.
Why do we think we will be so blessed when we are wearing all the wrong spiritual clothes?
There are times I’ll say to my daughter Savanna, “get dressed, we’re going somewhere”. Maybe I’m going down to Brandon Mall and I want to take her with me. Nothing makes her happier than looking around in Claire’s and Bealls! She's a chip off of the old block! Well, sometimes I tell her to get ready and then I go get ready myself. I come out 30-45 minutes later, dressed and ready to go and there she is laying on the couch watching Hannah Montana in her pajamas. I say, “I thought I told you to get dressed! I wanted to take you somewhere…” and she's not ready at all and I end up leaving her with back home and going because she wasn’t ready. Meanwhile Jordan hops up and says, "I'll go with you, Momma, I'm ready!" and he's the one who gets to go with me and is blessed while his sister has to stay home with Dad.
What are you trying to accomplish in your life without putting on the breastplate of righteousness?
Alright, we’re getting into exciting territory here…the SHOES!
3) THE SANDALS OF READINESS.vs. 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
The power of shoes!!! Jesus knew the importance of shoes. Shout now!!!
The soldiers sandals back in the day were fitted with nails or spikes to make them hold firm in the ground. This was to provide solid footing in battle. The soldier was prepared for hand to hand combat.
Peace is about learning when to stand still and see the salvation of our God.
(John 14:27) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.(Philippians 4:7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Sometimes we’ve got to take off our running shoes and put on our standing shoes.
Recently I heard a sermon called, “don’t just do something, stand there!”
God has called us to stand, in peace.
Don’t run from your problems but stand before them with peace.
We need to live at peace with our circumstances, but also we need to be people of peace. The Bible has such high praise for peacemakers.
Nowhere in the Bible do you find accolades for people who cause strife. God isn't doing any favors for people who are keeping things all whipped up.
Peace makers-(Mat 5:9) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.Most of our troubles with people are a result of lack of peace and resolve.
When you enter the picture, let your reputation be that of a peacemaker. Are you somebody who always keeps this whipped up and can be counted on to give a negative word about something? We are to live at peace, and in peace – with God and man. Are you at peace with your circumstances, with God and man? One thing Jennifer Hart often says to the ladies in our life coaching class is, "be the solution ladies, be the solution." So what are you - the problem or the solution?
As we go into this new year, is there anyone you are not at peace with? If so, it will affect your increase, so take care of it.
4) THE SHIELD OF FAITH
When everything else is attacked, the shield of faith will protect it.
The shield was used to block the arrows of the enemy. The arrows were set on fire.When Satan sends his most deadly, fiery weapons toward us, we can ward them off with faith.
Faith is the key. Jesus couldn’t even do miracles in some places because of a LACK OF FAITH. We are called to be BELIEVING BELIEVERS. We can’t afford to leave our shield of faith behind.
There are two kinds of faith.IF—if all goes well, if life is hopeful, prosperous and happy, then I will believe in, and trust God.THOUGH—though everything comes against me, though I'm in the fight of my life, though everything goes wrong and the day or night seems so dark, nevertheless, I will believe in, and trust God.
God wants us to have “though” faith… THOUGH THE DEVIL MAY TRY TO DEFEAT US, NEVERTHELESS WE WILL TRIUMPH IN CHRIST!
Sometimes the only way to meet a flaming arrow is by the “shield of faith;” by confidence in the promises of God – the Word of God. You see, the shield can turn in any direction. It can face anything. There’s nothing you can throw at the shield of faith that it can’t stand up against.
5) THE HELMET OF SALVATION
Soldiers sometimes complained about the weight of the armor, and sometimes left the Helmet off. This caused them to be vulnerable to attacks.You never, never, never take your helmet off.
God’s continuing work of salvation in our lives is like a helmet to protect us.
The helmet of salvation protects our head- our minds. It’s easy for our minds to become desensitized in this day and age. The more you stay in the Word and protect your mind, the more you will be sensitive.
The Bible tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Salvation is accomplished when we pray the prayer of confession and faith, however – you have to continually stay fresh in living out this work of grace that God is doing in your life.
When I went to Africa I felt like I needed to get saved all over again. I thought to myself, "dear Lord, I know nothing about God compared to these people." They knew God in a very different way than I had ever experienced. The closer you get to God the more you realize, you don't know squat. You see, as we live the life of faith we realize our incredible need for Him.
Don’t get careless and lazy with your salvation. Don’t forget the miraculous work He did on the cross for you that makes all things possible.
I think of precious Marcus Danielson here at Northside. That boy breaks my heart. (In a good way.) Sometimes when we pray in church he just cries before God. He is just a little guy but his heart is so tender for the Lord. When we mention Jesus dying on the cross for us, he just weeps. How long has it been, my friend, since you wept over the realization of His sacrifice for you on the cross?
If you will preserve faith, then faith will preserve you. Part of taking up the helmet of salvation is guarding your mind. (Rom 8:7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.(2 Corinthians 10:5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
(Phi 4:8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Many soldiers have been slain on the battlefield of the mind.
The good things of God – His Word, His truth, prayer, worship – must be continually input into our minds to preserve our minds which is so crucial to our faith.
6) THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
This is our only offensive weapon.
Our sword is the Word of God. It is second to none.
I want you to think about something. Many of you go to a doctor whose name you cannot pronounce. He or she gives you a prescription you cannot read. You take it to a pharmacist you may have never seen. He or she gives you medication that you really don’t understand all the properties of and how it works, and you take it. All in sincere, trusting faith. Why not use that same faith with God?
Time and time again what did Jesus defeat Satan with? THE WORD OF GOD.
We have to have a renewed love for the Word of God. A renewed passion for the Word of God.
If we don’t have a hunger, what are we snacking on? When my kids come to the dinner table and I've made their favorite meal - a roast - with mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, homemade biscuits and chocolate cake and one of them says, "Momma, I'm not hungry," the next words out of my mouth are, "What have you been snacking on?" Usually the answer is junk - cheetos, cookies or whatever else. They aren't hungry for the good stuff because they've been inhaling all this junk.
Now, let's talk about the back side.
One time a pastor’s wife who was going through some stuff came to me, upset about some things. As most of you know I have a heart as big as all outdoors for pastor's wives and very seldom will I offer anything but compassion. However there is also a time to exhort or speak the truth in love. This was one such time. So this lady was upset about some stuff and she said, “I just feel like everybody just expects me to keep marching on!” and I said, “well, isn’t that what a soldier does? What are you going to do...quit? Because a soldier doesn't quit or go AWOL.” This dear sister thought that quitting was a viable option, but you see for a called one, quitting is not an option. We are not mere volunteers. We are not hirelings. We are SOLDIERS IN THE ARMY OF GOD.
Retreating is not a proper option for a soldier of Christ, no matter how hard the battle. There’s nothing on your back because you’re not supposed to turn around. Giving up is not the solution.
Ladies, we have had a great week of “Increase Prayer” and prepared ourselves for 2008. But we can’t forget to STAY DRESSED for what is ahead. We have to keep the full armor of God on. We’ve got to stay dressed because HE’S GOT SOMEWHERE FOR US TO GO! He’s wanting to take you places as a woman of God. He's wanting to take us to a higher place as the women of God of this church. And something happens when the women of God go to a higher place in Him. I'm ready.
Are you ready to GET DRESSED? We've got somewhere to go, so let's do it.