“Finally, Be Strong”

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance.” Ephesians 6:10-18

Firstly, Paul started with grace, extending this gift from the Lord, and reminding the Ephesians that by grace they were saved. He prayed for their wisdom and power and urged them to walk in love and wisdom in a manner worthy of their call, putting off the old and exercising their gifts in their new self. His letter was rife with love, deliberate instruction, and specific encouragement, but he knew that any list would be impossible to heed in the flesh without Christ. So he closed with his finally, that they be strong in the Lord and His might. (Ephesians 1:2,16-20; 2:5-9; 3:14-16; 4:1,11-13,17,22-24; 5:2,15-17)

It’s easy to compartmentalize our obediences. Certain things for Jesus, other duties at home and work. Certain obligations require spiritual fortitude, others personal smarts and gumption. But Paul reminds us that every call is a call of Christ, and requires the strength to stand in spiritual armor. No matter the obligation, the enemy seeks to lure or push us off course and destroy focus, witness, determination, and allegiance. He muddies our affections and deceives our sensibilities. (John 8:44; 10:10)

Do we set out on our days fresh and eager, yet unprotected for the fray? What can we do to make it a routine practice to prepare ourselves spiritually as well as physically and mentally, knowing that God knows all we will encounter? Armed in Him, we need not fear.

“We rest on thee, our Shield and our Defender!
We go not forth alone against the foe;
strong in thy strength, safe in thy keeping tender,
we rest on thee, and in thy name we go.

We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
and needing more each day thy grace to know:
yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
‘We rest on thee, and in thy name we go.’

We rest on thee, our Shield and our Defender!
Thine is the battle, thine shall be the praise;
when passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
victors, we rest with thee, through endless days.” ~Edith G. Cherry (1895)

Lord, help me live in Your strength and for Your glory.

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