I remember reading about the Knights of the Round Table with King Arthur and Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere and the valour and virtues of the knights to defend what was good. Whenever I read Ephesians 6:10-18 which talks of the armour of God, I am reminded of the battle against evil and the choices we must make between good and evil.
Sister Amaka stressed that Ephesians 6:10 cautions us to be mindful of our moments of choices, as St Paul prompts us to “be strong in the Lord, with his energy and strength.” God allows us to make choices in our struggle against the “spirits and supernatural forces of evil.” This reference to a struggle against principalities and powers in Ephesians 6:12 is probably the most quoted bible verse and is expanded upon by St Paul as he encourages us to put on the full armour of God; not partial but full armour.
10 THINGS ABOUT THE ARMOUR OF GOD
1. Truth as Belt: The speaker referred to the use of a belt which is used to hold things together. The phrase “tightening one’s belt” comes to mind, as it is used to indicate a period of buckling up. She stated that we must work on those “small small lies” or acts of gossip which we do. She stressed that sin is sin so lies no matter how we classify them as venial sins are not the truth. Indeed, if we claim to know God who is the Truth, then we must know the truth and put it as a belt to hold everything about us up.
2. Righteousness: She mentioned that righteousness was right standing with God. I can’t even begin to count the numerous references to righteousness in the bible. What I do observe is how God is attracted to the righteous and she encourages us to chase God likeour lives depended on it. When we do such, we shall be in right standing with God.
A short story was given of a person who was so impressed by the anointing of a pastor that he sought him after his address to find out how he could acquire such anointing. The pastor invited him to a place and told him to get in the pool and when he did, he started to press him under the water with the man struggling for air underneath. After a while, the pastor stopped and asked him how he felt when submerged. The man was so angry, but the pastor explained that he should remember how he felt when he was under the water gasping for air and told him that in order for him to get such anointing, he needed to chase God as he was chasing that air under the water. We need to chase God.
3. Shoes: Ephesians 6:15 speaks of “zeal as your shoes to propagate the gospel of peace.” She pointed out that shoes represent the way you walk in the spiritual realm and asked us if we were always ready to expand the kingdom. Are we ready to be in the kingdom expansion realm? I remember meditating upon why reference to shoes was made before she clarified that shoes represented one’s walk with God. I had found out that the shoes or boots of a Roman soldier had studs at the bottom which were used for traction and to hold firm to the ground. Do we have traction with God? Is our walk with God firm?
4. Shield of Faith: St. Paul urges us to always hold in our hands the shield of faith to repel the arrows. The speaker pointed out that the arrows by the devil are flaming since the intent of the devil is to kill. It is not for target practice. The devil wants to kill us and when we truly internalize this, we realize that we must be more vigilant and need to work on our faith.
She stated that faith is a product of what one believes so we need to feed ourselves with the right belief and to open our minds. I can completely identify with that. I have seen our fellow Christians have some beliefs which are more in line with secular humanism than Christianity. I have seen others who claim to have an open mind but when faced with something to which they are not accustomed, their prejudices are revealed. Indeed we need to feed ourselves with the right belief found in the Word of God.
5. Helmet of Salvation: She stated that we needed to remember that Jesus is the saviour and brought us salvation. Indeed, when we lose sight of this fact and it strays from being at the top of our minds, then a chink in the armour of God appears.
6. Word of God as Sword: The speaker pointed out that God’s word is the only offensive weapon in the armor of God so we needed to store it and memorize it as much as we can. It is the only thing that we can use to fight with in the spiritual realm and is used when we finally understand who we are in Christ. We are his warriors.
I recall asking someone whether she had watched the “Book of Eli” starring Denzel Washington. Yes, yes – that Denzel Washington. I had watched it previously with starry eyes but upon watching it with spiritual eyes, I questioned what I would do if there were no more bibles in the world. As in no hardcopy, no soft copy – nada, nothing, none! How would I engage in spiritual warfare if I did not have the Word of God burned in my heart and mind?
7. Living In The Spirit: Sister Amaka stressed that we need to take our whole chase of God, our spiritual warfare and everything about our life, in prayer to God. She stated that the Holy Spirit will give us what to say so we needed to be focused on Him and focused on living in the Spirit.
8. Keep Alert: Now, this aspect resounded in me. Not because I am necessarily a lazy person but because of the temptation of spiritual laziness and the danger of intellect and reason to justify our backward slide in the spiritual realm. I once had a discussion with someone over the drinking of alcohol and whether it was good or bad. Without getting into much detail, would you recommend someone drinking alcohol no matter how small, if he was going to conduct surgery on you? Would you recommend that same person drinking alcohol when you knew there was risk that he may drink more than he wanted to? As soldiers, we must keep alert and be ready at all times to do battle. We are always on duty.
She pointed out that we must keep alert to know the effectiveness of our prayers and whether we need to increase our spiritual tempo. She also warned us about our motives and urged us to check whether our prayers are of the Spirit or being led by selfishness and greed.
9. Persistence: The speaker urged us not to give up in our prayers and in trying to ascend to the uppermost spiritual realm of grace. She referred to Matthew 7:7 where we are encouraged to ask, seek and knock and pointed out that the knocking is the persistence that is required for answered prayers and winning the battle.
10. Pray Always For All: She stated that we must not be selfish in this battle since it is communal as we are the Body of Christ. When the priest says “the Body of Christ” when giving us communion, we respond with the affirmation of “amen.” We are the army. Imagine the people of God all bearing the full armor against the devil. Imagine the triumphant glory and victory. Imagine how it was when Archangel Michael sent Lucifer and his cohorts packing? Why can it not happen again in the lives of us all? We must be communal. We must pray always for each other and not be selfish since our gifts and the armor given is for the service of others.
She concluded by stating that 2017 will not be business as usual. The days of coming to mass, reading bulletin and doing no more than that, will be a thing of the past. She urged us all to dig deeper into the Word of God in the bible to grow and to step up our relationship with God.
She also warned against the tendency to be lax and feed from the man at the pulpit, as it was impossible to be satisfied by man. We need to seek God and feed off Him in a private way by not only attending spiritual programs and going the extra mile to do so in other parishes, but also by being close to Mary whose life was only focused on fulfilling the will of God in complete selflessness. In this spiritual journey of warfare and pursuit to access the highest realm, she encouraged us not to tarry when we fall but to be in constant repentance so that we might stand firm again having the zeal as our shoes in the armor of God.
We pray that we shall indeed be strong in the Lord as we operate on a higher spiritual realm and march on to be victorious and to do His Will in 2017. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.