Remember the Saints - It's Time to Suit Up

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, October 29, 2014 0 comments

by Logan Ames

If you want to be good at anything, chances are you have to put in the work ahead of time to be prepared. Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos just set the all-time record for most career touchdown passes. When reporters asked him about the record and his team’s general dominance of their opponent, the first thing he said was, “Well, we had a really good week of practice and I think that showed during the game”. The World Series is currently going on in baseball. I saw that the teams began practicing and preparing for their opponent five days before the first game of the series. In addition, players begin batting practice and pre-game stretching several hours before the first pitch. It’s true outside of sports as well. If you play in a band or lead music for a church, you don’t usually show up and wing it. You have set times for rehearsal. Likewise, if you have a big test or project at school or work, you increase your odds of doing well by studying or practicing.

Part of preparing, especially in music and sports, includes checking your equipment to make sure it will not malfunction and getting suited up in whatever gear or outfit you will need to complete the task at hand. The Apostle Paul tells believers to “suit up” as well. “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” (Ephesians 6:10-11). Paul wanted the Christians at Ephesus to be prepared because he knew they were facing, and would continue to face, intense persecution. This was true about most of the Christians Paul wrote to in the New Testament letters, but we see in Revelation 2:3 that Jesus tells the church at Ephesus that they “have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary”. Yet, Paul continues in Ephesians 6 that the “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” (v. 12). He then goes on to describe each piece of the armor of God in verses 14-17. I’ll get to his very important words after that a little bit later.

Paul is telling Christians in Ephesus, and everywhere else, that those who persecute us are not the real enemies. The true enemies are the dark powers and forces that lead the persecutors to do what they do. Paul knew about being on the side of those powers because he used to be a persecutor of Christians. But he now understands that being strong in the Lord and his mighty power gives him victory against all of those enemies.

This time of year, we have two very different days of celebration. Whether we realize it or not, Halloween is a celebration of evil forces. Now, I’m not saying that anyone who participates in handing out candy to children dressed in costumes is celebrating evil. I’m simply encouraging you to think about what you are doing, what message you send to others this time of year, and what God might be saying to you about your activities. Personally, I do hand out candy to kids that come to my door, but I don’t get into horror movies or anything that celebrates evil, fear, or the harming of others. I believe Scripture is clear that those things do not come from God. If I have an opportunity at costume parties to maybe send a different type of message, I like to do so. Several years ago I wore a costume that was actually a live embodiment of the full armor of God. It certainly made for good conversations!

The second holiday is All Saints Day. Since Katie already described in Monday’s post where this holiday originated and why it is celebrated, I will simply say that this is an opportunity to intentionally remember current persecuted Christians all over the world. When Paul talks about the saints in the New Testament, it seems that he is almost always talking about persecuted believers. Every year, the Voice of the Martyrs designates the first Sunday of November (11/2 this year) as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. I would encourage you, wherever you are, to not let that day come and go with you just getting on with church, life, and watching football or whatever you normally do on Sundays. Instead, intentionally make it a point to go before the throne on behalf of the thousands, maybe even millions, of persecuted believers around the world. We often forget that persecution is happening because it isn’t right in front of our eyes, but there is no question that many Christians in nations around the world don’t enjoy the same comforts and freedoms that we still enjoy in America today.

By the way, I wouldn’t be the only one encouraging you. After explaining the full armor of God, Paul urges the believers to pray for him and for all persecuted believers. “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. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6:18-20). Do you see the heart of what Paul is asking prayer for regarding himself? Nowhere in those words do you see him asking for God to change his circumstances. Paul is asking the believers to pray that God changes him through the persecution and enables him to go forward with a fearless boldness that can ONLY come by being “strong in the Lord and in his mighty power”.

That was the whole point of his instructions about the full armor of God. We can pray for protection for ourselves and for others, but ultimately we know this world is not our home. We know that as long as we are here, we WILL face troubles (John 16:33). Persecution will come and if we are blessed enough to be counted worthy of suffering for Jesus, it might even cost us our lives. So, as we pray for ourselves and as we pray for the persecuted church this year on the first Sunday of November, let’s focus on praying exactly as Paul asked in the verses shared above. Let’s pray that the saints that are in circumstances we can’t even imagine AS WE SPEAK will be covered with the full armor of God so that even in their death if necessary, they will take their stand against the devil’s schemes and will resist the temptation to abandon their faith. Let’s pray that they will stand boldly for Jesus and be a witness to even their persecutors. And let’s get suited up ourselves, for we know not when we might be called to face such persecution and might covet the prayers of saints all over the world as WE try to stand against the devil’s schemes. God may change your circumstances and he may not. But no matter what, he is ALWAYS doing something in and through you. Are you prepared?