"When I cry out to You, then will my enemies turn back;
No armor would be complete if provision is not made for the most vulnerable part of the body, the head. Once again, Paul admonishes us to "take" the helmet. If we will not take it and put it on, we will suffer the consequences. The helmet speaks of guarding the mind, using particularly the knowledge of God's coming deliverance. This use of the helmet is made clear in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, "...and for a helmet, the hope of salvation." The word hope comes from a Greek word `elpis,' which means more than the contemporary meaning of the word hope. It means a "confident expectation." David's hope in God was clearly evident in the opening Scripture of this chapter. He knew that God was for him, that the Lord would fight on his behalf; David was wearing his head-gear.
The Christian's hope is ultimately the Second Coming of Christ. He lives with t with the knowledge that Jesus will appear in unutterable power and splendor. The Captain of our salvation will burst through the heavens to do final battle with, and triumph over, the enemies of the Gospel. What a fearful Day for those who will not take heed to the call for surrender. Their proud, stubborn hearts will not allow them to lay down their weapons, lift up their hearts and cry, "All to Jesus, I surrender, all to Him I freely give."
As in any war, we may lose the occasional skirmish, but we, as Christians, have the knowledge burning within our hearts, that we have won the war already. This is the bold confidence of those who follow the Lord of Glory to whom all nations are as a "drop in a bucket." We have the key of promise that never fails to unlock any door the enemy may put in front of us. We know that the Scripture given to Adam must be fulfilled, that God, "shall bruise satan under your feet." This must come to pass, therefore we need never lose courage.
In the opening verse of Isaiah Chapter 42, the prophet speaks of the office of the Messiah. In verse 4, we are told that Jesus was never discouraged. This verse is wort " Jesus never lost His courage because he knew that He would not fail! How could He when the Father was with Him? There lies the key to not only the courage of the Son of God, but of Stephen, and every other hero of the cross who laughed in the face of the enemy's greatest weapon, death.
Our brethren had the courage because they knew they could not fail because God was with them! They had bolted down the helmet of salvation. They knew that death could not touch them -- it could only promote them. It was merely a doormat on which they wiped their feet as they entered the joy of Heaven. Their strong consolation was, "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment, you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, says the Lord."
The Christian's righteousness has been given to him by God. That's why we can have boldness even on the Day of wrath. That's why we can have strong confidence in God. That's why we can have God fighting for us rather than against us. We know that He who is within us is greater than he who is in the world. Our eyes have been opened so that we can see who God is, and that one person who is on God's side is an infinite majority.
Imagine for a moment that you are in the front line of battle. The enemy is falling before you like flies. Courage fills your heart as you fire your machine gun after the retreating enemy. You laugh in victory. Suddenly, your laughter stops in your throat. Eight hundred enemy tanks, in one great arm of attack, rise over the hill in front of you. They don't break rank. They move as one mighty wall of metal toward you. Nothing will halt them. The ground shakes beneath your feet; your knees do the same. What then do you do? You run! What actually happened was you lost courage because you lost sight of the victory! Jesus knew that He could not fail, therefore He was never discouraged. Brethren, we have Him with us who could pulverize 800 billion enemy tanks into powder with the flutter of His eyelash! Never, never lose sight of the victory. Don't let the lies of enemy propaganda penetrate your mind. Remember the command, "Fear not; for I am with you; be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness."
To be discouraged is to dishonor God. If He is with us we can never lose courage. Remember that satan is just a creation of Almighty God. A blind, anaemic, feeble, sickly, dying, weak-kneed flea on crutches would have more chance of slaying a herd of a thousand wild stampeding elephants, than the enemy has of defeating God! Over the years, I would often feel the weight of discouragement fall upon me when I didn't see fruit for my labors. Months would go by with many hearing the preaching, yet not a soul would be saved. But we shouldn't let any situation quench our zeal. A hen will scratch harder when worms are scarce. If souls are scarce, pray more, witness more, and you will get your worms . . . if you faint not. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. John Wesley said to his preachers, "You have nothing to do but to win souls; therefore spend and be spent in this work."
In my travels I often meet ex-gang members, bikers, etc., who used to listen to my preaching, and they are now saved and going on for God. I have heard of people who have responsible positions in church, because they heard the preaching years before.
God wants to make His ministers a flame of fire. Look at the change in cringing, discouraged, cowardly Peter, denying that he even knew Jesus. After the Holy Spirit was given, fire burned in his bones. The Spirit of God opened to him a new realm of faith, courage and power. At Pentecost, tongues of fire came upon their heads so that tongues of fire would come out of their mouths! If we are filled with that same Spirit, we should also be filled with that same confidence. If God is for us, nothing can be against us . . . "Take the helmet of salvation."
The Sword Of The Spirit
C.H. Spurgeon said, "We must thrust the sword of the Spirit into the hearts of men." The enemy does not like this part of our armor. This is the weapon he wants kept in its sheath. He doesn't want Christians to see the point of the sword of the Lord. The sword was to the soldier of Paul's day, what ammunition is to the soldier today. The Scriptures say, "And take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." This is the mighty weapon which God has issued to all who enlist for service. The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It effectively cuts into the heart of all who oppose its gleaming blade. I have heard demons scream through the mouth of an unconscious girl when this weapon was used! When satan attacked the Son of God in the wilderness, Jesus did not react carnally. He picked up the glistening razor-edge of the Word of God and said, "It is written . . ." He used the two-edged sword, and it was effective.
Look at how Christian utilized his sword in that great classic publication, Pilgrim's Progress:
Soldier of Christ, throw away your sheath, it is not part of your armor. Strap the two-edged sword firmly in your hand. The book of Revelation describes the glorified Jesus by saying, "...and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword."
The way to keep the sword on hand is to have it in your mouth. In Jeremiah Chapter 1, God told the prophet not to speak words of fear. God then put His words in the mouth of Jeremiah, and in Chapter 5 we are given a development report of his transformation: " . . . thus says the Lord God of Hosts: `Because you speak this word, behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.'" God wants us to speak His word. In Genesis Chapter 1, God did not think "Let there be light," He spoke the Word. When Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus, He did not think, "Lazarus, come forth," He spoke the word. He said, "My words are spirit, they are life." He said, "Marvel not at this; but the hour is coming when all that are in their graves shall hear His voice."
There is power to create in the Word of God. When the light of the Word is spoken, the darkness of the enemy must vanish. An elderly Presbyterian minister told me that in the First World War soldiers would come to him in tears, gripped by fear before a battle. He would read Psalm 91 to them and watch the fear vanish. Look at the wording: "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust."
The Psalmist didn't just think, he said! Hebrews 13:6 says the same thing: "So that we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" If the enemy's strategy is to put a blockade in your path, speak to it: "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whosoever says to this mountain, `Be removed and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says." (Mark 11:22-23)
The enemy may have you in a place where there seems to be no hope. Like David, you feel that the enemy is about to "swallow you up." Then speak the Word boldly in the face of the enemy, grip the sword, flash it about like livid lightning, then thrust it at the enemy, you "mighty man of valor." -- "And take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."
Last But Not Least
The last of the weapons which accompany the armor of God, mentioned in Ephesians Chapter 6, is the power of prayer. This is referred to in the KJV as "all prayer." Prayer is the line of communication we have with Headquarters. It is by that line that we send for supplies for the troops -- ammunition, food, medical aid, etc. This is why it is essential to keep the communication line open, free from interference, from satanic static. Sin interferes with earth to Heaven communication.
Prayer is our lifeline to God, and it is evident that He is calling His Church to prayer -- the kind of prayer that will storm the very gates of Hell in the Spirit realm. The kind of prayer that will stand firmly on the blood-bought promises of the New Covenant. We need world-wide revival in the Church that will boil over into the world! We need to call the things that "are not, as though they were," to look at the things that are not seen; to follow in the footsteps of Abraham, who "staggered not at the promise of God, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, being fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was able to perform." Revival is God's will. He is not willing that any perish; He wants all to "come to a knowledge of the truth." Therefore we can with confidence pursue God for men, then in urgent zeal, pursue men for God.
Prayer is the key to every revival in hist. Prayer is the key behind every preacher used by God in the past. For the soldier of Christ, true prayer should be a way of life, not just a call for help in the heat of battle. This message is made very clear in Scripture: Ephesians 6:18: "Praying always . . . ," Colossians 4:2: "Continue in prayer . . . ," 1 Thessalonians 5:17: "Pray without ceasing," Romans 12:2: "...Continuing steadfast in prayer."
Hudson Taylor, the great missionary, said: "The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty works of Divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God's standing challenge, `Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'" It has been said that he who is a stranger to prayer, will also be a stranger to power. We need to seek God for the anointing which breaks the hard hearts of Hell-bound sinners. Hardly a day goes by when I don't beseech God for wisdom. Oh how I want the wisdom of God. The Scriptures say, "He that begets wisdom loves his own soul." If you have wisdom from above, you will save souls. If you have wisdom you will never say or do anything wrong. If you have wisdom, you will see all the traps set by the enemy, you will encourage other Christians with insights from the Word, and you will cut sinners to the heart with the wisdom of God.
We need such an anointing on our preaching that men will weep in a sense of their own sinfulness. When I speak of the "anointing," I am not meaning "power" ministries -- those with much show but have little conviction of sin. I am speaking of that anointing that elevates the holiness of God, that is faithful to preach sin, Law, righteousness, holiness, judgment, and Christ crucified.
God loves His children coming to Him in the intimate communion of prayer. The Scriptures tell us, "The prayer of the upright is His delight." Let us never face a day in battle until we have faced the Father in prayer. John Bunyan said, "Prayer is a shield to the soul, a delight to God, and a scourge to satan." Satan trembles when he sees the feeblest Christian on his knees. How utterly convicting are the words of Martin Luther: "I have so much to do (today) that I should spend the first three hours in prayer." Of course, Martin was a monk, and therefore had the time to spend in prayer, but we can see the principle of what he was saying -- "Seek first the Kingdom of God."
May each of us catch a glimpse of the power and the authority God's children have through prayer. We are privileged in having "whatsoever" we say. Obviously this doesn't include that which James says we want "to consume upon our own lusts" (James 4:3), but that which is in the will of God for us as His children. The reality of this authority was so clearly demonstrated in the following incident. I had just finished speaking at a Christian camp, and in closing, asked how many were not "filled with the Holy Spirit" and yet wanted to be. Eight put up their hands. I then said without any deep thought: "I sanctify this area of the floor, in the name of Jesus," and pointed to a specific portion of the floor. In Leviticus 27:16-22, the Scriptures speak of certain individuals "sanctifying" areas of the ground. The word is "qadash," and means to "pronounce as clean" -- to "hallow" something. The Bible uses the word a total of 70 times, and I am convinced that when a certain thing is sanctified in the name of Jesus, God listens.
I then said to the group, "We are going to have a mini-Pentecost, right here!" and pointed to that same area. The eight came forward. Six stood where I indicated, and two stood to the left. The minute we began to pray, the six who stood where I indicated were immediately filled with the Spirit, and the two that stood to the left were not. I saw what was happening and pulled one across to where it was all happening, but it was too late . . . they had missed the boat. God means what he says. He says that we are ambassadors. That means that we will be backed up by God in what we say, if what we say is pleasing in His sight. Satan knows this and seeks to stop you and I seeing the authority we have in Christ. Don't be afraid to exercise that authority by sanctifying your children, home, land, or even your car. God told Israel to sanctifying themselves, their firstborn, and even the ground around Mount Sinai before He gave them the Law. After this incident at the camp, I have always sanctified planes I travel on. As the engines roar on the runway, I say, "I sanctify this plane as a vehicle to transport Your servant to do Your will, in the name of Jesus."
Look at the context of this scripture:
Jesus is talking about the enemy. He is speaking about the one who has taken sinners "captive, to do his will." One way to bind satan's power over something, is to sanctify it, to set it apart as holy, then we may spoil his goods.
We are stronger than the enemy because our strength is not our own: "The Lord is my strength and my shield" . . ."Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." When we submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee from us. The key is to live in that place of continual submission, sanctified to the Father and His will.
Within the very cartridge of prayer are the explosive forces of faith:
Look at the spirit of victory behind these words from Psalm 149, which seems to summarize what I have been trying to say: "Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples; to bind their kings with chains, to execute on them the written Judgment -- this honor have all His saints. Praise the Lord" (italics added).
Sharpen the Axe
A man was once cutting a tree-stump with an axe which was obviously blunt. He was only bruising the bark, as sweat poured from his beaded brow. Someone suggested he stop for a moment and sharpen the axe, to which he replied, "No way, I'm too busy chopping the tree to stop for anything." If he would only stop for a moment and sharpen the axe, he would slice through the tree with far greater ease.
Stop each day, and "sharpen the axe" through prayer. Seek first the Kingdom of God and you will slice through that day with far greater ease.
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18).
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