Hi Jason Pankau here with another daily devotional for you. We’re looking at the Spiritual armor of God together. Two weeks ago, we did an intro where we looked at spiritual warfare in general. Last week we talked about the belt of truth. The next piece of the armor is the breastplate of righteousness.
Ephesians 6 starting at verse 14. “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.” The breastplate guards all the vital organs in your body, except your brain. But the breastplate guards all the other organs you need in order to digest, breathe, etc. If you understand your sinful nature, you know that it is the righteousness of Christ that is the only way to be righteous myself. It’s an imputed righteousness. He died on the cross to make us righteous if we live by faith in his grace.
So my question is, how are you putting on your breastplate of righteousness today? Are you feeling that you can be righteous in your own right? Could you actually do good? It’s one of the biggest things I encounter as I mentor others. They’re stuck in the idea that they are just trying to be a good person. Biblically speaking, that’s impossible! The Bible says there are no good people. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore, we need His grace for forgiveness. We need his life strength given to us through the Holy Spirit to enable us to live righteously. So this Scripture is saying: submit to the Lord and grow every day. Grow as God sanctifies us and grows us up to be more like Him. Put on the breastplate of who God is transforming you to be everyday.
Another way I describe this is to put on your sweatpants and show up for training every day with the Lord. Trust in Him and His righteousness for you.
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, it is your righteousness that we seek. We are so grateful that you sent Jesus to be our righteousness, to pay the penalty of sin that we could not pay, and then to send the Holy Spirit through baptism to indwell us, to equip us for holy living. Father, we want to show up today and every day and say, “Your will be done. Train us. Live through us, for your glory, in Jesus name. Amen. God bless you as you do that today.
We’re looking at the full armor of God. What does it mean to engage in spiritual warfare? Last time, we did an intro to set up the series. Today, let’s start to dig into the armor together.
Ephesians 6 starting at verse 14. “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.”
There have been so many images preachers have used through the years to describe why truth doesn’t make you look like a fool – it keeps your pants on. And we want to walk around with our pants on, for sure! But so many of us begin to believe the lies and end up looking like fools because we’re not grounded in God’s word. I want to encourage you today, if you don’t already, to dive into the word of God daily, renewing your mind by His truth. I pray that you would build that practice into your life, that you would build the guidance of God into your life. God’s truth will lead you and bless your life in ways you won’t believe.
God’s truth is what Jesus used when He was confronting evil in the desert. “God says…. No, God says…. No, God says….” So you need to know what God says if you’re going to confront evil ideas, thoughts, attitudes and believes that will start creeping into your life as you interact in this world.
I pray that we would be people of the truth. The Truth will set you free! And it will keep you strong, able to stand against the devil and his schemes.
Let’s pray: Lord Jesus, I pray that we would know your truth and that your truth would set us free. I pray that because you are the way, the truth, and the life, that we would put on the belt of truth. Father, thank you that even the truth we do not know, if we live dependently on you that you prompt us to know right from wrong, good from evil, and that you would guide us to all truth, as you told us in Scripture. Father, give us a hunger to study your word, to know your word inside and out. Burn it into our minds and into our hearts that we might live. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
God bless you as you live by the truth.
Hi Jason Pankau here with another daily devotional for you. A lot of my friends over the past couple of months have been growing as new disciples of Christ. We have seen so many young people come to faith these days and the questions that they are tending to ask pertain to spiritual warfare. They’re surprised at how excited they get as they see God use them. But then when they actually engage in helping others come to faith or confront sin, it seems very hard and they get a bit depressed because they just don’t see people receiving the word of God such in a favorable way that it brings about change in their lives. So it made me think we should do some devotionals on spiritual warfare.
Ephesians chapter 6 as many of you know is the spiritual armor of God chapter. I want to give you a little intro to that and then we will go week by week looking at a piece of the armor together.
Ephesians 6 starting at verse 10. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” I just want to stop here for a minute. It’s very important that we understand that our natural gravitational pull as sinful human beings is to try and live in our own strength. At best we would call that religion, at worse we would call that just living apart from God completely. We need to remember that we cannot follow the guidance of God without the power of God. Again, as it says in verse 10, “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God.” So now there is this question, “What is this armor of God? What has he provided for us to put on?” It’s just sitting there if we would just put it on by faith in Him.
Verse 12 says “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. Therefore, 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.” Trying to help others know God and grow in God, it’s like heavy lifting and it’s not going to come easily because of the sinful condition that human beings walk around in and the influence that evil has already had on their lives developing deep, long-lasting habits of walking in evil, thinking in a worldly way. So we need to take heed that the full armor of God means the encouragement of God. One of the famous names for Satan is ”The Adversary”. The one who is going to come against to take away our zeal for God. Standing with God and putting on his full armor is trusting in Him and Him alone. Even though they don’t follow the wisdom that you know God is trying to give them through you, you need to continue to love them, forgive them and give grace to them anyway. And that’s part of the armor.
So think about that today. Are you feeling encouraged today, to walk with your Lord? If not, you are in a spiritual battle as we all are. And maybe the step you need to take today is to put on that armor and say, “Father, fill me with your strength and encouragement to want to do your will today.”
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, we need your strengthening. Bring us alive by the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in us through baptism. Teach us and use us for your glory and the growth of your Kingdom. We pray in Jesus name, Amen. Bless you as you do that today.
Luke 15 & 1 Timothy 1
What does it mean to live on mission with God? What does it really mean to be His follower? It means connecting people in real, loving relationship. There is one key to love: humility. Jesus in Luke 15 goes right to this point. Jesus has three kinds of people with him: the Pharisees, the people who seek God but don’t know how to connect with God, and then his disciples. Which one do you relate to today? No matter where you are right now, God keeps coming after you. The Pharisees complained that Jesus welcomes sinners and tax collectors, so how could God be in that? Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Connection with Him is found in humbly confessing and repenting before a holy God. Satan gets you thinking that you don’t need God, his guidance or his power. I’m going to do life the way I want. In humility if you confess, His grace and mercy are poured out on you. Confess and get absolution. Life is found in humility.
Jesus spoke to the crowd. There was a shepherd with 100 sheep, but one wandered off. So the shepherd, concerned with the sheep, seeks until he finds it. You and I never seek God of our own accord. Our seeking is because He has sought us and His Holy Spirit moves us to Himself. God always moves first. It’s His conviction to move you to pray, to relate to God and others. Then the shepherd puts the sheep around his neck and walks it all the way home. Jesus seeks for us and his strength brings life. There is more celebration in heaven over one sinner that repents than 99 others who don’t think they need God. I am prone to be proud. I’m prone to wander. The Shepherd brings us home.
For those who aren’t animal lovers, Jesus talks about a man who loses one coin out of 10. Wouldn’t you look for 10% of your wealth if you lost it? I found security in this thing and I looked until it was found. And again, heaven rejoices when a sinner repents.
Paul instructs Timothy to go and show these teachers the error of their ways. They cannot become righteous on their own. Call them back to humility. The command is LOVE. Humility is where love is found. Paul is one mean dude! A blasphemer, persecutor, a murderer, a violent man. Fun-challenged for sure! It’s all about being right. God moves Pharisee Paul to repent. God moves Paul from the old way of life lived in unbelief to a man commissioned to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. How do you move from one to the other? The grace of God through humility. Christ Jesus our Lord has given me strength. Paul was blown away that God would consider him faithful enough to entrust him with His mission. Paul acted in ignorance and pride, and he confessed it. Jesus changed Paul’s heart to love
Are you ready to say, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst, but for that very reason, I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Jesus Christ might display his unlimited patience.” It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. God has unlimited patience to forgive. When you get to that place of humility, now to My king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God be honor and glory, forever and ever. That’s what life looks like as we live humbly before our God. The Pharisees thought they were all done. Here at Trinity, we are all hypocrites in transition. God keeps working with the likes of us.
Where are you with God? Are you walking humbly with him?
We are created by God to be instruments of his glory. The glory of God is man fully alive! How would you rate yourself today?
Satan is hell-bent on destroying God’s glory and there is a lot of evidence that people are walking in their own flesh. Atheists disprove the existence of God by looking at His people. Christians should be different. They should be only depending on the Father. We look at the prayer of Jesus, that He would be faithful and submitted to the Father and that the Father would be glorified. He prays that His disciples would be emboldened to proclaim His name. We are called to live in Christ Jesus.
As we learn to submit to God, God heals strife and transforms us. We need to be solidly in the middle of His will so that God might be glorified. We need to humble ourselves. I’m the problem. We are the only thing stopping the glory of God. Jesus says that He gave us the glory that God gave Him. I in them and you in me – complete unity, so that the world will know that You sent me. Once you understand the glory of God, nothing compares to it. Life found by faith in Christ only makes you want more! And this is his will for you. The only thing stopping it is us choosing otherwise.
Are you walking in the glory of God? We move from one stage of glory to the next, according to Colossians. God is sanctifying us, making us usable for Him. We want to become more like Jesus. Nothing is better than a man or woman being fully alive in Christ Jesus. Where you have struggle, relational strife, bring it to Jesus. All things are possible through Christ. The question is “How big is your God?”
1 Kings 17:7-24 & Luke 7:11-17
How many of you need healing? God wants to heal our hearts, the spiritual parts of us. Have you ever wanted something other than the will of God? We are desperately wicked. Baptism changes everything. His grace comes to us in baptism. We can live into our Baptismal promise. We have the Holy Spirit living in us, but we can drift away from it or push it away. Our drift pattern is away from God, but as we come to Him daily, His healing is there for us. He can heal us spiritually, emotionally, mentally. God can heal anything! Where would you be without the healing power of God? How many of you should have been dead already? But by the grace of God! I don’t know why God doesn’t choose to heal everyone, but His ways are higher than my ways.
There are bigger things being played out than what I want. It is NOT about ME! But He did die on the cross for ME. He knows what’s best. This is love for God: to obey His commands. God allows us to walk into trouble and He calls us back to the only place where life works: when we’re obeying His commands. We can do this through Christ. He mourns when we choose to disconnect from that. God provides Elijah with food during famine from a widow who gave him her last meal. Then the son of the widow dies. “Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” she says. People think that’s only what God does: reminds people of sin and brings death. Is that your God? No, but we forget, don’t we? We ask “why?” It was so she would know that God is good! God is good! God provided flour and oil, but when her son was taken, she forgot. But then her son was delivered and then she remembered! In our Gospel lesson, Jesus tells a dead boy to “get up.” And Jesus gave him back to his mother, another widow. The funeral procession was filled with awe. Aren’t we all filled with awe?! All things are possible with God.
Real living can be had now. When we forget that God can heal through His grace, I tend to leave Him. When we remember, we believe more and more that He is Lord and Life. Then Paul recounts his healing: he was blinded physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. The man who persecuted is now proclaiming God’s love. Do you know someone who is far from God? I’m challenging you this day to pray for them. God can supernaturally call them unto Himself. That’s the ministry we can all be a part of, as we obey and trust in Him by faith. Isn’t that good news? Someone’s eternity can be changed.
We are finishing our devotional series on the walking in the Spirit where we’ve been looking at the Fruit of the Spirit. To recap, we’ve been through eight of the fruit of the Spirit now: agape love, feeling the joy of the Lord as we walk on mission with Him, the Shalom of God, God giving us patience for our lot in life and for others, God giving us kindness, other-centeredness, and helping others who are not experiencing the love of God, the supernatural power of God moving through us expressing His goodness to the world, transforming lives, faithfulness, the ability to be immovable people of love day after day after day that others will see as different, and we can tell them it’s because of God’s goodness. It’s His love and faithfulness. And then gentleness. We get used by God to be the corrective hand and wisdom of God for people, helping them find connection with the Father, connection with each other and their calling of servanthood in the world. And now finally, Paul adds this one (self-control) just to make sure that we didn’t miss the point. The final fruit of the Spirit is self-control. The only possible way that we will ever be self controlled is by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
The number one most quoted Bible verse in America is “God helps those who help themselves.” That’s not only not even in the Bible, but it contradicts the teachings of Scripture, which is to radically depend on God! So the point here is obvious, I hope: the only possibility that we all have of pursuing God’s best life for us is to let God empower it in and through us.
Here’s a definition of self-control I’d like you to consider: temperate restraint of one’s desires, emotions, thoughts, and actions; to be in harmony with the will of God. Self-control is doing God’s will, not living for one’s self. It’s the control of heart, soul, mind and strength.
God will bring life to us if we let him. That’s what this entire series has been about. I want to encourage you again with the verse that follows right after this one: “against such things there is no law.” This is the life that God’s been guiding you to through the Law and in the Gospel: walk in the Spirit. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let’s keep in step with the Spirit.
Basically, this is how the Holy Spirit wants to live in and through each and every one of us right now. And the Holy Spirit can empower it to happen. When we don’t allow it to happen, we’re the ones who moved. This life is possible for you today, right now. It’s only our sin, our sinful desires, only our lack of faith in Him and His life for us, that moves us out of that place that we get to be spirit people letting God transform the world through us.
So I call you to repent, to submit to the love of God, to receive his forgiveness, and to let Him guide and empower everything that is said or done through you today.
Let’s pray. Father, I’m grateful that you’ve given us this journey through this Fruit of the Spirit series where You’ve convicted us over and over again that You are good, that You are wholly good, and life comes only through Your Spirit and Your grace, Your living grace. Father, help us to submit to You today, help us to recalibrate our lives to live by faith and not by sight. Help us to be people, not only of the Word and not only of grace, but of faith. Father, we pray that You’d empower Your fruit through us today. Use us as Your instruments to build Your kingdom. It’s in Jesus’ holy name and for His glory, we pray, Amen.
God bless you today as you let God empower you to live a truly self-controlled, on-mission-with-God, life of love. Give’m heaven!
The use of the voice to express the power of Christ from within us reflects a number of biblical precedents. “Command the mountain to be cast into the sea,” Jesus said. “God inhabits praises of his people,” said the psalmist.
The real-life implication of this is that we can speak God’s word into specific events and circumstances. The Bible is a book of real people and real occurrences, not just abstract ideas. Our circumstances are likewise real, and there are aspects of God’s presence and the divine nature that are relevant to those specific circumstances. They are not just for providing a vague spiritual or psychological background.
We must, of course, be careful not to fall into the trap of what some have called “name it and claim it.” It is crucial that we remain in the proper relationship of dependence on God. We don’t control God or work formulas on Him. Actually, our dependence is an opportunity: The more dependent we are, the greater is our access to God’s abundant mercy and practical help.
Secondly, we should never suppose that God’s blessings can be downloaded and stored as if in a computer. God knows that we would fall easily out of close fellowship with Him if we didn’t need to depend on Him for spiritual power and for everything else.
Yet once we are truly conscious of our abiding dependence on God and are acting on the basis of trust in Him, He truly enters our awareness as the God “from whom all blessings flow.” It’s a question of what is filling our minds. “The mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). Our human nature causes a tendency to drift toward what is worldly, selfish, and sinful, but God gives us the opportunity to replace all that with the things of Jesus. This may not seem appealing until we actually experience them, but the more we taste the joy and peace of believing, the more we want to resist anything at variance with the divine nature.
How, then, can we speak blessing so that it becomes a way of life and the way we react to everything?
We can begin by making affirmations of faith about the ordinary tasks of everyday life that may seem at first to be unrelated to faith. If we are in the car, for instance, we might feel as though we won’t really be “living” until we reach our destination. Yet those “in-between” moments of life can become “destinations” themselves and we can celebrate the presence and power of God in them.
The same is true of life’s little difficulties, such as traffic jams, or its major difficulties, such as the relationship issues that can arise in family and occupational contexts. Whatever the difficulty, we have the opportunity to speak God’s peace and power into it. For instance, we can affirm: “The Lord is the stronghold of my life, including in this situation.” Or: “My strength in this circumstance is in quietness and trust.”
If we practice this we find that it begins to gain its own momentum. It becomes the kingdom reality that governs our desires and also our reactions, whether to difficult experiences or good ones. It becomes easier to be stewards of our lives in Christ rather than imagining ourselves as owners, a fantasy that always ends badly. Life as a steward becomes a life of joy and peace, and we find that we have no desire to go back to our previous state of mind.
Alertness is important, because our enemy wants to keep our focus and our faith on our problems, not on God’s answers and reassurances. However, that doesn’t mean living like a hunted animal. We can relax and keep affirming – and enjoying – the loving presence of God, who as St. Paul affirmed, is “working so mightily within” us. While doing this we find that we are being transformed day by day by the renewal of our minds.
We continue our series of Walking in the Spirit. Right now, we’re going to look at Gentleness. We’ve looked at love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. There’s a flow: the love comes in and through us, the joy comes to us and through us, the peace and patience transforms us from the inside and then out through kindness and goodness and faithfulness. And now gentleness.
One of the markers that it’s God doing things through us is gentleness. I like to call this correcting others gently. As we have earned the right to be heard because God moves through us with kindness and then goodness and then people find that we are faithful over time. This is not a flash in the pan. This is who God made us to be in the Spirit. Then they are going to be open to correction. They’re going to be open to hearing the Gospel, whether it’s for the first time, or hearing aspects of this life in Christ if they’ve been a Christian for a long time but have not submitted to the lordship of Christ in this aspect. How do you go about helping Christians (or non-Christians) grow? Everywhere you look in Scripture, even in the next chapter in Galatians 6, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” The hardest thing in the world is to receive the rebuke of God, whether you’re reading Scripture and receiving rebuke, or it comes from another person. It’s definitely hard when it comes from another person because you feel embarrassed. The Scripture says it’s shameful to even talk about the things that the wicked do in secret. But that’s us. We’re all wicked. But the more we start to live by the spirit, the more we want to be transparent and real. And the more we’re willing to enter into the light of God and let our deeds be exposed by the light of the Gospel. The good news is that He forgives us for it. He transforms us and He empowers us to live the Spirit-led life.
So I want to challenge you to believe that gentleness is the way we should be relating to everyone. About a year ago, I was getting some input from some mentors as we were going through the fruit of the Spirit on some assessment tools in Delta and Omega. And I got some feedback that I could work on gentleness. You know, they didn’t exactly prepare me for gentleness when I was being trained as a middle linebacker. But I received that rebuke and I want to start moving in this area of gentleness. I want to start learning about that.
Here’s a definition of gentleness: a humble, non threatening demeanor that derives from a position of strength and authority. One thing that I’ve noticed with my physical size is that people can be intimidated right away even though I’m coming with a gentle personality and tone, so I personally need to be doubly aware that I’m being gentle. I need to be aware if people might feel threatened. Nobody wants to threaten because that doesn’t put people in a teachable place. The definition continues: derives from a position of strength and authority and is useful in calming another person’s anger and correcting others. This is not being weak and passive. Being gentle is being wise, helping others deal with a very delicate subject, which is change, transformation, the need to repent for sin, the need to seek God and His ways. This is awesome stuff. If you can be used by God… Again, you earn the right through love, joy, peace, and patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. Then we can express God’s gentleness as He unlocks people’s lives with that supernatural gentleness, the fruit of the Spirit that helps people receive His corrective wisdom and make changes in their lives that lead them to the life that is truly life where they can walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh.
So I want to encourage you today to pursue gentleness, to let the Holy Spirit empower you to be gentle, not to be harsh or rude or angry or any of that. Let’s pray: Father God, apart from you, we really cannot be gentle. I pray that your supernatural gentleness would come through every one of us today and that you would empower us to be gentle. I pray that you would let us see the wisdom in how to correct others with wisdom and gentleness. So Father, we pray that you would do this through us, that you would make us your gentle people. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
God bless you as God empowers us to be His gentle, loving, correcting people of God.
Our modern sensibility tends to resist an acceptance of evil and sin as realities, despite the awful occurrences described routinely on the nightly news. The corollary of our trendy individualism is that we should avoid judgment of bad behavior; the corollary of our culture’s pleasure-seeking is that we can choose not to think about what is sinful or unpleasant.
A current intellectual fashion asserts that invisible things, in particular spiritual things, are subjective – even the existence of God. In fact we are expected to entertain the notion that all of life is subject to individual choice, if not whim, and that we all must be respected for whatever path we choose about anything. This attitude has contributed to a tendency not to take sin and evil as seriously as in the past. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a serious setback to jolt some people out of this cavalier concept.
One doesn’t have to be a believer, only a keen observer, to see how sin can ravage entire societies. For instance, a friend of Life Spring Network had worked as a Capitol Hill correspondent in the 70′s and was acquainted with a distinguished British journalist, the late Henry Fairlie, author of the Seven Deadly Sins Today. Fairlie was a nonbeliever but was still willing to look unblinkingly at the sad consequences of sin all around him and to write a brilliant book about it – at a time when the word “sin” is avoided even in many churches. What was also evident to our friend was that Fairlie, as a nonbeliever, had no effective resource to combat sin’s destructive impact in his own chaotic life.Even among some believers we can discern a “victim” mentality, or some other attitude that cuts the nerve of any effort toward prevention. Yet God makes available to us all the power over sin that we need. We can receive that power by repentance, faith, and obedience. These lead not just to freedom from sin, freedom from what’s negative, but lead us onward to the joy and peace of believing.
In other words, through the atoning death of Christ on the cross, we can know another reality, one that is just as real as sin but which replaces that with the spiritual blessings that God wants us to have. We are sometimes in situations where the need to oppose the reality of sin and evil is obvious and even urgent. In such cases we can (1) remember that we are children of the most high God; (2) command to the enemy to get away, in the name of Jesus; (3) pray, “Come, Holy Spirit” into the situation;(4) submit to God in obedience; and, (5) quote Scripture, as Jesus did in temptation. Among the great Scriptures available for this purpose include the following:
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain. (Psalm 3:4)
Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame (Psalm 6:8-10)
For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight. (Psalm 72:12-14)
God presides in the great assembly;
he renders judgment among the “gods”:
“How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
“The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
“I said, ‘You are “gods”;
you are all sons of the Most High.’
But you will die like mere mortals;
you will fall like every other ruler.” (Psalm 82:1-7)