Ephesians Pt8 God is in control of everything

Ephesians 3:14-21(ESV)14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The church at Ephesus was dear to Paul. His ministry among them spanned three years. The church there began with just twelve believers (Acts 19:7), but through faithful effort they experienced amazing growth. Knowing the success in Ephesus, Paul desired them to remain focused on the Lord, while maintaining their priorities. Verses 14-17 speaks about the Holy spirit. The indwelling of Christ is not a consequence of the gift of the Spirit; it is identical with it, for the office of the Holy Spirit is to dwell in us and help us to bear the likeness of Christ.

Colossians 1:27(HCSB)27 God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The promise of the Holy Spirit is the one who dwells within you. The Spirit of Christ.

John 14:15-18(HCSB)15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.

The same Spirit that dwelt in Jesus and raised Him from the dead, dwells within us and this is our hope of glory.
Romans 8:8-11(HCSB). 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.

If I were to ask you to describe God what would you say? That He is Spirit? Truth? Love?

Transcendence describes how God is above or superior to everything in creation, and immanence describes how God is involved in creation. Some people see them as contradictory—how can God be outside and above everything and yet be involved in everything?

God is higher above creation than we can even imagine, Look at the verse again: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think

What is it that God can do? He can do exceeding (the Greek word is “hyper” as in hyper-drive) abundantly more than we can ask or even think. In other words God can do way more than even the most complex thoughts our minds can muster. Now if He can do more than we can imagine then He must be way more than we can imagine.

Think about some of these verses:

Isaiah 55:8-9(HCSB)8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration.9 “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 40:13-14(HCSB)13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or who gave Him His counsel?14 Who did He consult with? Who gave Him understanding and taught Him the paths of justice? Who taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding?

The difference between God and man is as great as the distance between outer space and earth—it’s infinite! God is beyond teaching. He doesn’t ask us what we think, and He doesn’t seek our approval or our advice.

God is independent from and above everything else: He doesn’t need to eat or drink, He doesn’t need oxygen, He can’t die, He doesn’t age, He can’t be sick or injured, He doesn’t fail, He doesn’t seek wisdom, and He isn’t fooled. He always accomplishes His purposes and He knows everything that has ever happened and ever will happen. He ordains it!

He is superior to everything and exceedingly far above it. You can’t explain Him or define Him even if you used every word in every language and tried it for eternity. By His own definition He is: “I AM THAT I AM.”

Exodus 3:13-14(HCSB)13 Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what should I tell them?” 14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”

God is above all, Yet, God still indwells His people and is active in His creation

Colossians 1:17(HCSB)He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.

Hebrews 1:3(HCSB)The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

The relationship between God and His saints is a very personal and intimate one. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14(HCSB)The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son[c] from the Father, full of grace and truth.; the Spirit fills and seals us; the Father has called us and holds us in His hand (John 10:29(HCSB) My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.).

This God who’s so high above us is yet involved with us. No one and no thing has any life, movement, or being without it coming from the transcendent God!

His involvement is for His own eternal glory

The Westminister Shorter Catechism asks the question, “What is the chief end of man?” Many of us know the answer. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” While this is not a phrase drawn directly from Scripture, the wisdom behind it surely is. The Bible tells us with great clarity that man was created in order to bring glory to God. Thus the chief end of Christians and of the church is to bring glory to God.

There’s a trend in modern Christianity that basically says the purpose of God is to satisfy man. He reigns in heaven so that we can have a wonderful and happy life. He saves us so that we can have assurance in the afterlife and peace in the present one. Most people don’t come right out and say it like that, but that whole idea that God is here to love me and serve me is at the heart of their doctrine.

Why do we go and witness? Is our primary reason so that people can be saved? Or is it that God is glorified? Do you see the difference? We’re not going to help God out—He doesn’t need anything from us. We go and witness because God is worthy to be praised and our witness brings Him glory.

And when we think of missions in this way there’s no chance for failure as long as we preach. “Unto Him be the glory.” That’s the whole point of our entire existence—He must increase and we must decrease. John 3:30(HCSB)30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” And on earth this glory is in the church—that is, He is glorified by the fact that He loves us and has redeemed us. Remember when Jesus prayed for the disciples and for everyone who would believe through their word?

John 17:23(HCSB)I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.

God is Sovereign and His providence

Sovereignty describes God’s absolute control over everything, always and forever. He is not dependent on anything outside of Himself, never has been, never will be. (This is why His creature, man, cannot initiate his own salvation by his, man’s choice).

Providence is from latin, pro videre, seeing in advance, and also means God really establishes, ordains whatever comes to pass.

Just suppose next Sunday Day morning you were showering and listening to the radio. The newscaster announced that the night before at exactly midnight every house of prostitution, every porn shop, every gambling casino, and every house of any kind of sin very mysteriously collapsed and were totally destroyed. Your reaction would probably be, “Praise the Lord.” When you went to Sunday School somebody would ask you, “How do you account for that? What do you think happened?” I am sure you would reply, “It was the hand of God. God was surely in that.” Of course, you’d be right. The unbelievers may not accept your explanation, and the newspapers and TV newscasters may be inventing all kinds of theories, but you would attribute the whole thing to God and rejoice in His sovereign work.

Now just suppose the following Sunday morning you were again shaving and the same newscaster said, “Last night at exactly midnight every single Bible-believing church in the country very mysteriously collapsed and was totally destroyed.” I wonder what you would say then? Would most Christians say, “Bless the Lord,” or would they say, “It was the devil”?

Why would anyone blame – or rather, credit – God for the first situation (the destroying of the bad places), and then credit the devil with the destruction of the churches? If we understood the Scripture clearly, especially texts like Romans 11:36(HCSB)36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. and Romans 8:28(HCSB)28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. we would be forced to acknowledge the hand of God both times. God sovereignly controls every single thing that happens, whether it be “good” or “bad.” God is involved, in one way or another, in every event and each minute detail of that event. This is what we mean by “The Sovereign Providence of God.” If this is not true, then we really have no sure hope for our lives in this confused generation.

When people blame all the good on God and all the bad on the devil, they are guilty of an ancient heresy called “dualism.” Dualism basically sees God and the devil (good and bad) as two independent and sovereign powers struggling for ultimate control of this world. We earnestly hope “our side” wins, but at times it does not look too good. Unfortunately most Christians today are guilty of believing that very heresy. This is especially true of the charismatic movement as well as anyone else that emphasizes health and wealth as the birthright of every Christian, and blames the devil for everything that hinders our “personal happiness”. This is the heresy of dualism at its worst.

Why do sincere Christians do this? Why do they blame the good on God and the bad on the devil, unconsciously denying the sovereignty of God? It is probably because they are trying to “protect” God. They are trying to make it easier to believe and love Him by exempting Him from anything that appears to be bad and crediting Him with everything that appears to be good. A young nurse who worked in the emergency ward of a hospital told me that when anyone from a particular church in that town had an accident, the pastor would rush down to the hospital. His first words to the victim and family were, “Remember, God had nothing to do with this.” I suppose the poor man was afraid the people might desert the faith. If you’ll just think that preacher’s statement through for a moment, you can see it is ridiculous. The man may have been trying to “protect God,” but in reality he was laying the groundwork for despair and unbelief. He was leaving the injured person totally in the hands of either Satan or blind cruel fate. He was unconsciously moving God right out of the picture when the person needed most the assurance of God’s sovereign control.

We must stop looking at life as positive or negative. This is not buddhism there are no positive and negative energy.

God not only has a plan, but He also carries out that plan. God is always in total control of all things and is constantly at work in accomplishing His plan.
Isaiah 10:5-11(HCSB)Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger—the staff in their hands is My wrath.6 I will send him against a godless nation; I will command him to go against a people destined for My rage, to take spoils, to plunder, and to trample them down like clay in the streets. 7 But this is not what he intends; this is not what he plans. It is his intent to destroy and to cut off many nations. 8 For he says, “Aren’t all my commanders kings? 9  Isn’t Calno like Carchemish? Isn’t Hamath like Arpad? Isn’t Samaria like Damascus? 10 As my hand seized the idolatrous kingdoms, whose idols exceeded those of Jerusalem and Samaria, 11 and as I did to Samaria and its idols will I not also do to Jerusalem and its idols?”

Sometimes God’s plan calls for revival and there will be a day of Pentecost when thousands of souls will be swept into the Kingdom of God. There are other times that His plan calls for judgment. Isaiah calls God’s judgment His “strange work,” but it is nonetheless God’s work. Just as there will be a day of Pentecost when thousands are saved, so there will be a day of judgment when a universal flood sweeps nearly the whole human race into everlasting damnation. We must see that God is just as much the author of one as He is the other. Whether it is Pentecost or whether it is the Flood, whether they are the events of Acts 2 or the events of Genesis 6, God is in total control and is working out His own plan. The rain and full harvest, as well as the drought and empty barns, are from the hand of the same sovereign God. We must learn to praise Him under both circumstances (Psalm 34:1(HCSB)I will praise the Lord at all times;His praise will always be on my lips.

In working out His own plans, God uses everybody, even the devil. Now at first that shocks some people: “What! God uses the devil?” That is exactly right. Everybody, even the devil, serves God’s purposes. Remember Satan is God’s Satan, he is His puppet. He cannot do anything that God does not allow. If he could then that would make him sovereign and not God. Now a servant may serve through gritted teeth, and he may hate his servitude; but he is, nonetheless, a servant. So it is with the devil. The devil has never done one thing out of love or obedience to God. He has never done one thing in order to knowingly bring glory to God. Everything the devil does, he does because he hates God and because he is trying to frustrate the purposes of God. However, in the end, everything the devil does will surely further the purposes of God. If ever there was a born loser, it is the devil, himself. In the final day, it will be shown that the devil never won a single time. And that includes the Garden of Eden!

There is alot of truth in this classic statement from one of the Puritans. “What God sovereignly decrees in eternity, man will always demand in time.” Man’s “free will” will always freely choose the very thing that God has sovereignly ordained and God’s purpose will be fulfilled; just as surely, man will be responsible for his every act of sin. I know of no passage that sets forth this truth as clearly as Matthew 27. The whole chapter is loaded with vain attempts by men to deny personal responsibility. First, Judas tried to deny his responsibility for the death of Christ by pleading Christ’s innocence and giving the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders. They, in turn, replied, “What is that to us? That was your responsibility.” Was it not their duty to be certain that Christ was, indeed, guilty and worthy of death? Certainly it was!

We are not responsible for the results of what God does with our acts; we are totally responsible for the acts themselves. That, and that alone, will be the basis upon which God will deal with us.

An elderly lady was praying out loud in front of an open window. She had neither food nor money, and she was pleading with God to supply her with something to eat. Two boys heard her and decided to mock her faith. They went down to the store and bought a loaf of bread and a quart of milk. Then they stealthily put the milk and bread through the window. When the lady opened her eyes and saw the food, she praised God for hearing and answering her prayers. The boys stuck their heads up above the window sill and said, “Woman, you are stupid. God did not send those things. We put them there, and we did it just to prove to you how dumb you are. God did not bring that milk and bread; we brought them.”

What would you say in a case like that? The lady smiled, thanked the boys for the food, and then said, “Thank You God for getting me these groceries and getting the Devil to pay for it!” I am sure you see the difference. When the mailman brings an electric bill for two hundred dollars, you do not get upset with him. He did not send it; all he did was deliver it. This is the principle that we must see in all of the difficult things that happen. Thomas Watson was a Puritan with the ability to put great truth into short, concise statements. If you understand the following quote, you have the whole message: “God always has a hand in the action where the sin is, but He never has a hand in the sin of the action.” It does not matter what happened, where it happened, when it happened, or to whom it happened. If it happened, then God had a hand in it; He controlled it. However, God is not guilty of the sin or hatred in the hearts of men that caused the sin in the situation.

Few people realize how important this particular principle is in our Christian life. We are told in Scripture to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” and to submit to Him. However, we are also told to “resist the devil” and never to yield to his wiles and temptations. The problem lies in knowing and recognizing the difference between these two things. Many Christians, under the guise of “resisting the devil,” may well be actually fighting the sovereign providence of God. Other believers, under the guise of piously “turning it all over to God,” may be deliberately ignoring their personal responsibility to obey clear principles and fight temptation. Until we learn to see both the hand of Satan and the hand of God, we may be fighting God when we think we’re “resisting Satan,” and vice versa.

Isaiah 45:6-7 (ESV)That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Even though all sickness and affliction are under God’s control and are part of His purposes, it is NOT true that they are all chastisement for sin. Some affliction is definitely chastisement for sin and is sent to bring us to repentance and effect specific change in us; however, that is not true all of the time. Sometimes God allows His people to suffer just to demonstrate the power of His grace. It is wrong for a Christian to ever feel that God is “getting even” and punishing him when affliction comes. God only punishes sin in one of two places: he either punished it in Christ and the penal debt is totally paid, or else He punishes it in the sinner in hell. Even when affliction comes into our life as chastisement, it is never penal [that is, from God as judge], but the chastisement is always remedial [that is, from a loving heavenly Father]. Our Father teaches us through affliction, but He never punishes (penally) us.

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Philippians Pt 10 My God shall Supply all my needs

Philippians 4:15-23(HCSB)15 And you Philippians know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. 21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. Those brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those from Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Philippians 4:16-18(HCSB) For even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

It is important to understand that you become a partner with whomever you support. If you support our church, anything that the Lord allows our staff and ministries to accomplish, you share in. This means that when you stand before Christ, you will be rewarded for the fruit that comes from our ministry. Even though the Philippians were 800 miles away from Paul, they supported his ministry, and through Paul’s fruit, the eternal pay off for them will be great! Perhaps you need to spend more time investing in your ERA than in your IRA. We need to ask, “Where can our money have the most eternal impact?”

In 4:18, Paul expresses once again that he isn’t after more money (whew!). Three times he states that he has been given enough: “But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent” (4:18a). Paul is not after a salary increase. He isn’t striving for a promotion. He is content in Christ. The Philippians blessed Paul’s sandals off. Ironically, if any church had an excuse not to give, it was the Philippians since they were one of the most impoverished churches (2 Corinthians 8–9). But in spite of their circumstances, they gave, not just according to their ability, but beyond their ability. Paul now offers three expressions of gratitude for the Philippians’ generosity. He calls their gift “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God” (4:18b). Paul draws upon the Old Testament where they would take an offering and lay it on the altar, and they would pour it out and it would create steam that the whole community could smell.

2 Corinthians 9:6–12(HCSB)Remember this:  The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves  a cheerful giver. And God is able  to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. As it is written: He scattered; He gave to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.  10 Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.  11 You will be enriched  in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God.

The rain falls on the just and the unjust; foxes have holes and birds have nests, while lilies adorn the fields. Everything in creation is under the providing care of God. Not only does God supply all things, but He arranges them according to His plan and for His glory. For Christians, this ought to produce peace and comfort even when it appears that all is against them.

Proverbs 16:33 (HCSB)The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

“God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.11). If Creation was a unique exercise of divine energy causing the world to be, providence is a continued exercise of that same energy whereby the Creator, according to his own will, (a) keeps all creatures in being, (b) involves himself in all events, and (c) directs all things to their appointed end. The model is of purposive personal management with total “hands-on” control: God is completely in charge of his world. His hand may be hidden, but his rule is absolute. Some have restricted God’s providence to foreknowledge without control, or upholding without intervention, or general oversight without concern for details, but the testimony to providence as formulated above is overwhelming.

The Bible clearly teaches God’s providential control (1) over the universe at large, Ps. 103:19; Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11; (2) over the physical world, Job 37; Pss. 104:14; 135:6; Matt. 5:45; (3) over the brute creation, Ps. 104:21, 28; Matt. 6:26; 10:29; (4) over the affairs of nations, Job 12:23; Pss. 22:28; 66:7; Acts 17:26; (5) over man’s birth and lot in life, 1 Sam. 16:1; Ps. 139:16; Isa. 45:5; Gal. 1:15–16; (6) over the outward successes and failures of men’s lives, Ps. 75:6, 7; Luke 1:52; (7) over things seemingly accidental or insignificant, Prov. 16:33; Matt. 10:30; (8) in the protection of the righteous, Pss. 4:8; 5:12; 63:8; 121:3; Rom. 8:28; (9) in supplying the wants of God’s people, Gen. 22:8, 14; Deut. 8:3; Phil. 4:19; (10) in giving answers to prayer, 1 Sam. 1:19; Isa. 20:5, 6; 2 Chron. 33:13; Ps. 65:2; Matt. 7:7; Luke 18:7, 8; and (11) in the exposure and punishment of the wicked, Pss. 7:12–13; 11:6. (L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 4th ed.)

Clear thinking about God’s involvement in the world-process and in the acts of rational creatures requires complementary sets of statements, thus: a person takes action, or an event is triggered by natural causes, or Satan shows his hand—yet God overrules. This is the message of the book of Esther, where God’s name nowhere appears. Again: things that are done contravene God’s will of command—yet they fulfill his will of events (Eph. 1:11). Again: humans mean what they do for evil—yet God who overrules uses their actions for good (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23). Again: humans, under God’s overruling, sin—yet God is not the author of sin (James 1:13–17); rather, he is its judge.

The nature of God’s “concurrent” or “confluent” involvement in all that occurs in his world, as—without violating the nature of things, the ongoing causal processes, or human free agency—he makes his will of events come to pass, is mystery to us, but the consistent biblical teaching about God’s involvement is as stated above.

Of the evils that infect God’s world (moral and spiritual perversity, waste of good, and the physical disorders and disruptions of a spoiled cosmos), it can summarily be said: God permits evil (Acts 14:16); he punishes evil with evil (Ps. 81:11–12; Rom. 1:26–32); he brings good out of evil (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23; 4:27–28; 13:27; 1 Cor. 2:7–8); he uses evil to test and discipline those he loves (Matt. 4:1–11; Heb. 12:4–14); and one day he will redeem his people from the power and presence of evil altogether (Rev. 21:27; 22:14–15).

The doctrine of providence teaches Christians that they are never in the grip of blind forces (fortune, chance, luck, fate); all that happens to them is divinely planned, and each event comes as a new summons to trust, obey, and rejoice, knowing that all is for one’s spiritual and eternal good (Rom. 8:28).

J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993).

Through divine providence God accomplishes His will. To ensure that His purposes are fulfilled, God governs the affairs of men and works through the natural order of things. The laws of nature are nothing more than God’s work in the universe. The laws of nature have no inherent power; rather, they are the principles that God set in place to govern how things normally work. They are only “laws” because God decreed them.

How does divine providence relate to human volition? We know that humans have a free will, but we also know that God is sovereign. How those two truths relate to each other is hard for us to understand, but we see examples of both truths in Scripture. Saul of Tarsus was willfully persecuting the church, but, all the while, he was “kick[ing] against the goads” of God’s providence (Acts 26:14(HCSB)14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice speaking to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. Apparently, “to kick against the goads” was a common expression found in both Greek and Latin literature—a rural image, which rose from the practice of farmers goading their oxen in the fields. Though unfamiliar to us, everyone in that day understood its meaning.

Goads were typically made from slender pieces of timber, blunt on one end and pointed on the other. Farmers used the pointed end to urge a stubborn ox into motion. Occasionally, the beast would kick at the goad. The more the ox kicked, the more likely the goad would stab into the flesh of its leg, causing greater pain.

Saul’s conversion could appear to us as having been a sudden encounter with Christ. But based on the Lord’s expression regarding his kicking back, I believe He’d been working on him for years, prodding and goading him.

I believe the words and works of Jesus haunted the zealous Pharisee. Quite likely, Saul had heard Jesus teach and preach in public places. Similar in age, they would have been contemporaries in a city Saul knew well and Jesus frequently visited.

Imagine Saul (the name Paul means “small,” suggesting he may have been shorter than average), standing on tiptoe, straining to watch Jesus, all the while grudgingly wondering how this false prophet could be gaining popularity. Nonsense. He has to be of Satan! Pharisees loved to think that. Nevertheless, Jesus’s ministry stuck in Saul’s mind. The more it goaded him, the more he resisted God’s proddings.

In Philippians 4:6(ESV) Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” And then in Philippians 4:19(ESV),just 13 verses later, he gives the liberating promise of future grace: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  This is not an unconditional promise, it is a conditional promise. God’s s promise to supply your needs (cf. 4:16) is embedded in the context of faithful, generous, even sacrificial giving. God meets our needs to express His approval of our giving. God does not promise to take care of the needs of believers who are stingy, lazy, or irresponsible. On the other hand, if you are giving as the Lord expects, He will meet your needs. Note carefully, he promises to meet needs, not wants.

If we live by faith in this promise of future grace, it will be very hard for anxiety to survive. God’s “riches in glory” are inexhaustible. He really means for us not to worry about our future.We should follow this pattern that Paul lays out for us. We should battle the unbelief of anxiety with the promises of future grace. While prosperity seekers might always be looking for money or possessions to miraculously arrive, we should take a closer look at what God desires to provide for us.

God’s provision extends to His ongoing relationship to all of His creation, which is deeply dependent on Him. Often, we take for granted the rain that falls, the sun that comes up every morning, the refreshing winds that blow, and the tides that cleanse our shores and invigorate the life in our vast oceans. But all these things are watched over by our loving God in His provision for us.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches His disciples to ask for provision, and our dependence on God is affirmed each time we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). In Matthew 6:24–25(HCSB)24 “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?, Jesus tells His disciples not to worry about food or clothing. The Father knows our needs. He desires covenant relationship with us, and that involves trusting Him to meet our daily requirements and seeking first His kingdom and righteousness Matthew 6:33(HCSB)33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Psalm 84:11(HCSB) For the Lord God is a sun and shield.The Lord gives grace and glory; He does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity. This verse carries a reminder that there is a part we play in God’s provision coming to fruition in our lives. We must walk uprightly.

James 4:3(ESV) is an answer to our questions about why prayers sometimes go unanswered: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” God sees the heart, and our prayers’ motivations are important to Him. Galatians 1:15-16(HCSB)15 But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me, so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone. 

Jeremiah 1:5(HCSB)I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Ephesians 1:4-5(HCSB)4 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.

Passages such as these give us an assurance that God’s love and direction began even before conception. What a gift to know that God has been involved in our lives from the very start! His love for us is encompassed in His desire for our highest good.

Romans 11:30–36(HCSB)30 As you once disobeyed God, but now have received mercy through their disobedience, 31 so they too have now disobeyed, resulting in mercy to you, so that they also now  may receive mercy. 32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience,  so that He may have mercy on all. 

A Hymn of Praise

33 Oh, the depth of the riches 

both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! 

How unsearchable His judgments 

and untraceable His ways! 

34 For who has known the mind of the Lord? 

Or who has been His counselor? 

35 Or who has ever first given to Him, 

and has to be repaid?  a

36 For from Him and through Him 

and to Him are all things. 

To Him be the glory forever. Amen. 

Philippians Pt9 I can do all things

Philippians 4:8-14(HCSB)8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. 9 Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. 11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. 14 Still, you did well by sharing with me in my hardship.

In Philippians 4:8 Paul exhorts us to develop a Christian thought life. Practicing verse 8 is essential if we want to develop and maintain healthy relationships. A Christian thought life is also integral to a life of joy (4:4) and peace (4:6-7) in every situation. Since our thoughts form our behavior, a godly thought life is also essential for the obedience to the scriptures and to a Christian life. Clearly, Paul’s thought life was at the heart of the what he had learned in every situation (Philippians 4:10-12(ESV) 10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. 11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. So Paul is telling us the way to be whole people in our relationships with God, with one another, and within ourselves. “A beautiful mind is a terrible thing to waste” is an advertising slogan for the UNCF, and it is so true. God has blessed us with an amazing combination of physical abilities and a brain to help us think, plan, work, and enjoy life. So God wants to bless, strengthen, renew, guard and bless our minds, as we focus our thoughts and actions on him. Luke 10:27(HCSB)27 He answered:Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.

Romans 8:6-(HCSB)6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since[g] the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

We don’t know what we like we like what we know. We are constantly in a state of being told what to like by TV, media, music, magazines, advertisements, etc.

Those things are constantly shaping the way we think, act, talk, walk, dress, eat, spend our time, etc.

What we take in greatly affects our attitudes, thinking and acting.

Garbage in Garbage out

Romans 12:1-2(HCSB)Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

But before we look specifically at what Paul is teaching and how to obey it, we need to think about:

I. What Paul is NOT teaching: the power of positive thinking.

I need to focus on this for a moment because the Christian world has been infiltrated with the false teaching of “positive thinking,” popularized by Norman Vincent Peale and, with only slight variations, by Peale’s protege, Robert Schuller. If you are at all familiar with the teachings of these men, you know that they are not Christian in any orthodox sense of the term, even though they both have been welcomed into evangelical circles. Through their influence, the idea has crept into the American church that it is wrong ever to be negative or critical. This has resulted in the loss of discernment.

On July 27, 2009, the cover of “Sports Illustrated” featured an image of Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow then he went off to play for the Denver Broncos. The headline—“Tim Tebow: Man of Many Missions”—riffed on the way he’d created a fan frenzy with his unique blend of faith and football. The championship quarterback seemed poised to jump off the glossy cover with pursed lips that oozed determination and a simple Bible verse scribbled within the black grease underneath his eyes: “Phil. 4:13.”

Tebow’s highly churched Southern fan base didn’t need to look up the passage. No, most of them knew it by heart: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13 is one of the most popular verses in any of the 66 books of the Christian Bible, having been printed on millions of key chains and t-shirts, cellphone cases and coffee mugs. (If one wanted to argue the trinketization of Christianity, this Bible verse would be a good starting point.)

But it also one of the misunderstood, misused, and misinterpreted.

Like Tebow, Philippians 4:13 functions as a kind of mystical incantation for many Christians. They recite the passage when they need to draw power from another place to defeat an enemy or conquer a difficult task. It’s a talisman like Green Lantern’s ring or mind sorcery like Dr. Strange.

Need an example? Joel Osteen, self improvement motivational speaker of the largest evangelical mega-country club in America provided the following commentary on Philippians 4:13 in the January 21, 2013 edition of his “Today’s Word” devotional:

Most people tend to magnify their limitations. They focus on their shortcomings. But scripture makes it plain: all things are possible to those who believe. That’s right! It is possible to see your dreams fulfilled. It is possible to overcome that obstacle. It is possible to climb to new heights. It is possible to embrace your destiny. You may not know how it will all take place. You may not have a plan, but all you have to know is that if God said you can…you can!

This is an example of the way many Christians today understand and interpret this verse. For them, the “all things” that Christ empowers them to accomplish includes fulfilling their dreams, climbing to new heights, and embracing their destinies.

Do you want that job promotion? To find your soul mate? Have better sex with your spouse? Make more money?  No problem. You can accomplish “all things through Christ.” Unfortunately, this way of interpreting and applying Philippians 4:13 couldn’t be further from its actual meaning. To understand what Paul, the author of Philippians, actually meant, we have to read the verse in context.

Philippians is one of the “prison epistles,” which is to say, it was written during one of the many times Paul was a jailbird. So it isn’t surprising that the book draws heavily on the themes of humility and self-sacrifice. When you imagine Paul penning this letter in a dank first-century prison cell—not exactly the new heights and destiny imagined above—you already begin to feel uncomfortable about popular interpretations.

But more than the setting, we must recognize that Philippians 4:13 is part of a larger idea. When we look at verses 11 and 12, the thought begins to take shape:

Philippians 4:11-12(HCSB)11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.

Paul isn’t telling Christians that they should dream bigger dreams; he is reminding them that they can endure the crushing feeling of defeat if those dreams aren’t realized. He’s not encouraging Christians to go out and conquer the world; he’s reminding them that they can press on when the world conquers them.

Contrary to popular belief, the Bible does not teach “God will give you the strength to do whatever you set your mind to.” (Actually, anytime a foundational view in your theology begins with, “God will give you”, stop and do a double-check.) [tweetable]God is not a heavenly bellhop or divine sugar daddy or cosmic power plant to fuel your dream-quest.[/tweetable] Instead, the Bible teaches, God is a sustainer when life feels unsustainable.

And if you’re like me, this is a “good news” message. Because my experience is that life is messy and thorny and unpredictable and chock full of disappointments. Most of them, a result of my own doing. I don’t need a God who motivates me to pursue my career dreams or chase down opportunities for personal advancement. I possess that drive on my own. Instead, I need a God who hunkers down in life’s trenches with me, who isn’t afraid to get mucky and messy and wade with me through tragedy and pain and failure.

The God of the Bible—Jesus—is better than we’ve imagined because he gives us what we actually need: strength to survive our moments of weakness and a sense of freedom even in life’s prisons.

Go write that under your eyes.

The positive thinking heresy has further spread through the so-called “Positive Confession” heresy, also called the “Health and Wealth” or “Name it and Claim it” teaching, that whatever you confess positively by faith, God must do it. This heresy attributes power to faith itself, and says that even if you are sick, you must not give a negative confession by admitting it, but must claim your healing by affirming, “I am well!”

Also a number of purportedly Christian sales companies or successful salesmen have utilized a form of this error through a sales motivational teaching called “positive mental attitude.” You’re never supposed to entertain negative thoughts. You’re supposed to use “positive self-talk,” have faith in yourself, and visualize yourself as successful and wealthy so that it will become a reality.

All of these errors are based on the heresy of Science of Mind, taught by Ernest Holmes, the founder of the Church of Religious Science, that your mind can create reality, that through thinking positively, you can do anything or achieve any success you want. The variations mentioned above, though claiming to be Christian and appealing to Philippians 4:8 as support, are satanic in that they appeal to the flesh, promote self, and do not confront people with the need to be subject to the lordship of Christ. (Dave Hunt deals with many of these errors in his two books, The Seduction of Christianity and Beyond Seduction [both by Harvest House].) But, clearly, Paul is not teaching the power of positive thinking in Philippians 4:8.

Since as fallen creatures we are prone to Satan’s lies and deception, the only way we can know the truth and walk in it is to steep ourselves in God’s Word. We should know the Word so well that we automatically run everything we encounter through the grid of God’s Word. We live in a day that is geared toward emotions and strongly influenced by the supposed “virtue” of tolerance. Our culture assumes that love means being tolerant and accepting of everyone and everything, even if God’s Word plainly declares that something is an abomination. If you go with the flow, you will be carried far from God’s absolute standard of moral truth as revealed in His Word.

We also must resist the pragmatism of our culture, which determines the true by whatever works. If something works, which means, it brings you happiness (at least at the moment) or it accomplishes what you want, then it must be true. But God’s Word doesn’t always line up with what works. In fact, it’s clear that sin often brings pleasure for a season; if it didn’t we wouldn’t be so enticed by it. Many of the “positive mental attitude” methods are effective in making you a successful sales person. But the question is, Are they biblical? We must test everything by God’s Word, not by feelings or pragmatism.

Before a person knows Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, he has a depraved mind (Romans 1:28(HCSB)28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong.. He lives in the lusts of his flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Ephesians 2:3(HCSB)3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. God must supernaturally raise us from our state of being dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1(HCSB) and impart to us a new nature that is able to obey Him (Ephesians 4:22-24(HCSB)22 You took off[a] your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.. Paul says that “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:7-9(ESV). As he goes on to explain, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to put to death the deeds of the flesh and to live in obedience to God.

Listen to and read sermons from godly men. The sermons and commentaries of John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, J. C. Ryle, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and other giants of the faith are available in print. Read the biographies of these and other godly men and women. With a few exceptions, avoid most of the modern Christian best sellers, and spend your time reading the works that have stood the test of time. These men walked with God, and they will feed your soul.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (ESV)For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

As believers, we are no longer conformed to this world because we no longer belong to the spirit of this age.

Colossians 1:13-14 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

Therefore, rather than continuing to conform to this world, we are to be transformed by having our minds renewed.

Where do we put our time and energy? Do we spend more time thinking about the things of the flesh, or do we spend more time on God’s word and the application of it in our lives? Whatever you do, it will be seen by your fruit, whether it be the fruit of the spirit, or the fruit of the flesh. Where we get into difficulties though is when we think it is okay to mix the two, for they cannot live together in harmony, they are opposite to each other. We have to put in a lot of time with the spirit to overcome the natural flesh. One of the most difficult things to overcome with man’s thinking is being stuck in the present, rather than thinking like God and thinking beyond to the future kingdom. We can get stuck with all the human activities that take up our time, the lusts and pleasures of the world. We can get bogged down with trying to acquire possessions, or money, or worldly status.

1 Timothy 6:7-8(HCSB)For we brought nothing into the world,and we can take nothing out. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.

That’s completely opposite to worldly thinking. The world bombards us with marketing telling us that unless we have the newest, the biggest and the best we will never be happy. But God says,

Matthew 6:33(HCSB) 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Seek the kingdom of God first, not second, and then whatever else is deemed necessary will be added. We can really see the difference between the mind of God and the mind of man here. The natural eyes of man see a beautiful Ferrari or Lamborghini, it sees a magnificent mansion, it sees a high flying executive job with an office at the top of a wonderful skyscraper, it sees endless holidays on a hot sunny Mediterranean beach. I’m sure you can think of many other things too. It would be so easy if Satan came as a red man with horns and a tail but he comes as your hearts desire, he comes after you with the things of this world that captivate your attention. When our attention is on the world and not on the kingdom we become susceptible to being deceived with things that are not sinful in itself but easily becomes an idol. It is interesting to note that Paul says that we must be transformed by the renewing of our “minds.” The mind is the key to the Christian life. The reason why non-Christians do not respond to Christian truth is because they cannot discern spiritual truth

1 Corinthians 2:14 But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 

The gospel is a call for the unbeliever to repent of his sin and embrace Christ by faith. The Greek word Metanoia translated “repentance” carries the notion of a change of mind. Our thinking must be changed (transformed) from old, ungodly ways of thinking into new, godly ways of thinking. What we know in our minds to be true forms a conviction in our hearts of that truth, and that conviction in our hearts translates into action. Therefore, we must first renew our minds.The only way to replace the error of the world’s way of thinking is to replace it with God’s truth, and the only infallible source of God’s truth is found in his revealed word, the Bible. Transformation through renewed minds comes as believers expose themselves to God’s Word through the faithful teaching of it each week in church, prayer, worship, personal Bible study and group Bible study. A solid church that believes in preaching the Word, reading the Word and singing the Word is invaluable in helping us renew our minds.

James 1:5-8(ESV)5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Building Spiritual Walls and Gates

We always hear of people who build walls around their hearts. ” That person is walled up” The city of Jerusalem (City of Peace) had walls, the reason they had walls was to keep the enemies out, but they had gates, and the gates had different uses. the same with our lives, we have to have walls for protection to keep the enemies out but we have to have gates to let the good stuff in and let the bad stuff out, but those gates need to be protected and usually that is where we fail the most.

The book of Nehemiah one of the history books of the Bible, continues the story of Israel’s return from the Babylonian captivity and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. It serves as a great metaphor for living the spiritual life. In the book, the Temple represents our heart (where God meets with us); the city of Jerusalem represents our mind; the walls of the city represent our spiritual walls and the health of our relationship with Christ, and the gates of the city represent our eyes, ears and mouth.

Nehemiah built the city walls and installed the gates to protect the city and the temple. Walls keep bad stuff or bad people out. Gates allow good stuff and good people in. But sometimes, the gates allowed bad stuff and bad people in. It’s not what the gates were designed for, but it happened because those in charge of the gates weren’t guarding them like they should.

Nehemiah was a Hebrew in Persia when the word reached him that the Temple in Jerusalem was being reconstructed. He grew anxious knowing there was no wall to protect the city. Nehemiah invited God to use him to save the city. God answered his prayer by softening the heart of the Persian king, Artaxerxes, who gave not only his blessing, but also supplies to be used in the project. Nehemiah is given permission by the king to return to Jerusalem, where he is made governor.

In spite of opposition and accusations the wall was built and the enemies silenced. The people, inspired by Nehemiah, give tithes of much money, supplies and manpower to complete the wall in a remarkable 52 days, despite much opposition. This united effort is short-lived, however, because Jerusalem falls back into apostasy when Nehemiah leaves for a while. After 12 years he returned to find the walls strong but the people weak. He set about the task of teaching the people morality and he didn’t mince words. Nehemiah 13:23-27(HCSB)23 In those days I also saw Jews who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples but could not speak Hebrew. 25 I rebuked them, cursed them, beat some of their men, and pulled out their hair. I forced them to take an oath before God and said: “You must not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters as wives for your sons or yourselves! 26 Didn’t King Solomon of Israel sin in matters like this? There was not a king like him among many nations. He was loved by his God and God made him king over all Israel, yet foreign women drew him into sin. 27 Why then should we hear about you doing all this terrible evil and acting unfaithfully against our God by marrying foreign women?” He reestablishes true worship through prayer and by encouraging the people to revival by reading and adhering to the Word of God.

Nehemiah led the Israelites into a respect and love for the text of Scripture. Nehemiah, because of his love for God and his desire to see God honored and glorified, led the Israelites towards the faith and obedience God had desired for them for so long. In the same way, Christians are to love and revere the truths of Scripture, commit them to memory, meditate on them day and night, and turn to them for the fulfillment of every spiritual need. 2 Timothy 3:16(ESV) tells us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” If we expect to experience the spiritual revival of the Israelites we must begin with God’s Word. Nehemiah 8:1-8(HCSB)1 all the people gathered together at the square in front of the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses that the Lord had given Israel. 2 On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding. 3 While he was facing the square in front of the Water Gate, he read out of it from daybreak until noon before the men, the women, and those who could understand. All the people listened attentively[a] to the book of the law. 4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform made for this purpose. Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah stood beside him on his right; to his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash-baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 Ezra opened the book in full view of all the people, since he was elevated above everyone. As he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and with their hands uplifted all the people said, “Amen, Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 7 Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, who were Levites,[b] explained the law to the people as they stood in their places. 8 They read out of the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.

Each of us ought to have genuine compassion for others who have spiritual or physical hurts. To feel compassion, yet do nothing to help, is unfounded biblically. At times we may have to give up our own comfort in order to minister properly to others. We must totally believe in a cause before we will give our time or money to it with the right heart. When we allow God to minister through us, even unbelievers will know it is God’s work.

The walls around Jerusalem have been torn down, built up, and moved many times. In AD 70, they were destroyed by the Romans, and in 1033 by an earthquake. The walls as we see them today were built in the 1500s.

While Nehemiah served King Artaxerxes in Babylon, he heard of the ruined state of Jerusalem. He was given authorization and supplies to go there and restore the walls and the gates. When Nehemiah arrived, he made a detailed inspection of the walls and gates (Nehemiah 2:11–16) and organized the people to start the rebuilding effort (Nehemiah 2:17–3:32). When the wall was rebuilt, it probably encompassed the same area as before, except it may have excluded the king’s gardens in the southeast. Starting from the east corner of the north wall, Nehemiah went counterclockwise:

Sheep Gate: North central, just north of the Temple Mount. Near where the sheep market was for the temple sacrifices. Sheep Gate

(Nehemiah 3:1-32)

The very first gate mentioned is the sheep gate. It was called the sheep gate because this was the gate which the sheep and lambs used in the sacrifice were bought through.

Personal aspect: No prizes for knowing that this speaks of the very first experience we come into in our Christian life – that is, a realisation that Jesus was the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. The sheep gate then speaks to us of the cross and the sacrifice that was made for our sins. It is the starting point of everything but you will also notice if you read the entire chapter that the sheep gate is also mentioned at the very end once we have come full circle. That is because everything starts and ends with Jesus’ death on the cross.

 

Prophetic aspect: This gate points to the first coming of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He is the sacrifice foretold in this sheep gate. He is the door by which everyone must enter to be saved (John 10:7-9).

Fish Gate: (Nehemiah 3:3) Northwest, just northwest of the temple. The Fish gate was mentioned next. It was called the fish gate because the fisherman of Galilee would bring their catch in through this gate to be sold. The Fish Gate was one of Jerusalem’s main entrances. King Manasseh had built it after God sent the Assyrians to capture him and teach him humility (2 Chronicles 33:14). Nehemiah had the sons of Hassenaah rebuild it (Nehemiah 3:3). Zephaniah prophesied that a cry will come from the Fish Gate on the Day of the Lord (Zephaniah 1:10).
Personal aspect: For us, it speaks of evangelism as we have been called to be ‘fishers of men’ (Matthew 4:19). It is a natural progression in our Christian life that after seeing that Jesus died for our sins, we would then want to tell others about it. Surveys have shown that believers who have been saved less than two years win the most people to the Lord. Their simple testimony of what Jesus has done in their lives qualifies them to be great ‘fishers of men.’ So this is the next step in the Christian life.

Prophetic aspect: This gate speaks of the church in the first century (the apostolic era) where believers on fire for God sacrificed all and went out to turn the world upside down with the message of Jesus Christ! And that is what happened. Starting with the Jews and then traveling out to the Gentiles in the then known world, the Apostles and disciples of the Lord truly were ‘fishers of men’ and the growth of Christianity spread rapidly during the first century.

Old Gate (Nehemiah 3:6) Following from the Fish gate was the Old gate. Nehemiah is the only book in the Bible where it is called the Old gate and it may have been one of the original gates made. Old Gate it is near the northwest corner of the wall, west of the Fish Gate.

 

Personal aspect:  This speaks to us of the old ways of truth. A young Christian having experienced the sheep gate, then the fish gate, soon sees the need for experiencing the old gate. This means learning the old ways of truth that never change. Jeremiah 6:16(NLT) states ‘Thus says the Lord, Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.’ Too many Christian’s today want something new. The latest teaching, the latest experience… Or they try to change truth to make it acceptable with what the world thinks is right ‘today’ (which may not be the same as what it thinks ‘tomorrow’.) But the Ancient of Days calls us back to His long established ways that do not change and remain the same yesterday, today and forever.

Prophetic aspect: Prophetically this speaks of the period of the Church Fathers around 100-325 AD (sometimes known as the Ante-Nicene era). This was a period where a defence of the faith and the truth of God were further established to counter attacks and persecution from unbelievers.

Valley Gate: (Nehemiah 3:13) West central, south of the present wall of Old City. The gate that Nehemiah used when he did his inspection of the walls. Several valleys surround Jerusalem and this gate apparently opened out to the valley of Hinnom.

Personal aspect: Examining the picture above you notice that there is a long distance before you come to the next gate, which is the valley gate. For a new Christian the Lord allows a ‘honeymoon’ type period where He teaches you and His presence is strong in your life. This can go on for some time as indicated by the positioning of the old and valley gates. But sooner or later the valley gate must come. The valley gate speaks to us of humbling and trials – valley type experiences used by the Lord for our personal growth. Never easy but the Christian needs to remember that in the natural nothing really grows on the mountain tops, but it certainly does down in the valleys. So it is in the spiritual. Never a nice experience but it always produces fruit.

Prophetic aspect: In the history of the church the valley gate would speak of the humbling and suppression of the true church following on from when ‘Christianity’ was made a state religion under Constantine (~390AD). Pagan rituals were adapted and brought into the ‘church’ and spiritual regression ensued. This long period continued with the ‘dark ages’ and the further establishment of Roman Catholicism as the face of ‘Christianity’ to the world.

Dung (Refuse) Gate (Nehemiah 3:14) Very southern tip, facing southwest it exited out to a garbage dump in the Hinnom Valley where, in the days of King Manasseh, child sacrifices took place (2 Chronicles 33:6). All of Jerusalem’s refuse and rubbish was taken out through the dung gate, down to the valley of Hinnom, where it would be burned.

 

Personal aspect: Again there is quite a distance to the next gate indicating that, unfortunately, the valley experience can carry on for some time. But the result of that experience is clearly seen in this next gate – the dung gate. This is where the rubbish is removed and this is what happens in our own life. Valley experiences are used by the Lord to clear away the rubbish so that true faith, refined by the fire, can come forth and produce fruit. Clearing away the rubbish in our lives is never easy but the benefits of this experience can be seen in the next gate. You will notice also that at this point of your Christian life there is a dramatic ‘turning of the corner’ that takes place. From the diagram above, up until this point we have been moving downward and the experiences have been hard, but having come to this point there is a sharp turn in the road and we begin to move upward again.

Prophetic aspect: The dung gate speaks of the rubbish that became established within the ‘church’ during the dark and medieval ages leading up to the reformation. Some of doctrinal ‘rubbish’ that needed removing included the teachings of indulgences, purgatory, salvation by various sacraments and works, exaltation of Mary as the ‘Mother of God’ and the man-made church hierarchy and papal authority. There was a lot to be removed!

Fountain Gate:(Nehemiah 3:15) Southern tip, facing east. The east gate that led out from the Pool of Shelah to the king’s gardens and the stairs that went down the eastern slope. The fountain gate is located near the pool and was often used by the people for cleaning before proceeding on to the temple.

Personal aspect: You will notice from the picture that the fountain gate is located extremely close to the dung gate. In other words, after a valley type experience where rubbish in our lives is cleared out through the dung gate, true faith comes forth and the fountains begin to flow quite quickly! This speaks to us of the living waters of the Holy Spirit that cleanse our lives and empower us for our Christian life. Jesus said: ‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:38)

Prophetic aspect: In church history, this speaks of the period beginning with the reformation (1517-1600). It was a time when the truth of God’s word was established again as Bibles were printed for the common man to read and the key truth of salvation by grace through faith opened the fountains of salvation to flow again.

Water Gate: (Nehemiah 3:26) Facing east, south of the current Old City walls. The Water Gate led down to the Gihon Spring which was located adjacent to the Kidron Valley The eastern wall on the south end apparently was abandoned and a new wall built farther west, turning the southern section into more of a tail. The new wall excluded the tomb of David and most of the water tunnel that fed the Pool of Shelah by the Dung Gate. But the narrow confines included the upper house of the king, the home of the high priest, and the ascent to the armory. After the wall was built, Ezra read the people the Law from a square by the Water Gate (Nehemiah 8:1).

 

Personal aspect: The next gate we arrive at is the water gate. The water gate is a picture of the word of God and its effect in our life. Ephesians 5:26(NLT) states ‘… having washed her by the water of the word.’  Psalm 119:9(NLT) states that it is only through God’s word that we can be clean. It is no coincidence that this gate was located next to the fountain gate as the two often go together. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes the word of God alive to us personally, allowing cleansing, encouragement and direction to take place in our life.

Prophetic aspect: From 1600-1900 the word of God made a dramatic impact in the lives of many around the world. Some of the great men of God preached the word including John Bunyan in the time of the Puritans, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, D.L Moody among others. The preaching and cleansing of the word went forth into countries and continents previously starved of the word through men such as Hudson Taylor, Adoraim Judson and William Carey.

Horse Gate:(Nehemiah 3:28) East side, just east of the royal palace and southeast of the Temple Mount. Near where the priests had their homes. The horse gate was  close to the King’s stables and the men of Jerusalem would ride their horses out of this gate to war.

Personal aspect: The horse gate speaks to us of warfare as horses were used in battle and became a symbol of war. Revelation 19:11(NLT)’I saw Heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness does He judge and make war.’ Spiritual warfare, as we will see in this entire study on Nehemiah, is a requirement of every Christian because we are all in a battle whether we know it or not. It is also interesting that the horse gate follows the water (word) gate for as the word goes forth the spiritual warfare is sure to increase!

Prophetic aspect: Horses speak of speed and war. From the 1900’s onwards both of these certainly apply! The speed of medical, technological, industrial and scientific advancements was beyond comparison. And yet with it came two world wars, countless wars between nations and constant ethnic unrest. For the church it has been one battle after another with the rise of the cults, Biblical criticism. Modernism and liberalism leading to an increasing apostasy within the church. The ultimate fulfilment prophetically of the horse gate will be in the Tribulation – the Day of the Lord as described in Revelation 6-19.

East Gate (Nehemiah 3:29) Just north of the Horse Gate, it led to the temple.

The East gate is located on the opposite side of the Mount of Olives.

Personal aspect: Ezekiel 44:1-3(NLT)… the gate that looked toward the east, and it was shut. The Lord said to me, ‘This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it.’ The east gate opens and looks toward the Mount of Olives and we know that when Jesus returns He will return to this mount. (Zechariah 14:4(NLT). He will then enter Jerusalem by the east gate. The east gate then speaks of the return of Jesus Christ. For our Christian life it shows us of our need to live with this hope and to long for His return. A specific crown is even given to those who do this (2 Timothy 4:8(NLT).

Prophetic aspect: Please take note how the last three gates (Horse, East and Inspection gate) in the picture are very close together because so are the events which they symbolise. Prophetically the east gate is very close to the horse gate because the day of God’s wrath ends with the coming of the Lord Jesus to Jerusalem on earth. (See Zech chapter 14).

Muster Gate (AKA Inspection Gate) (Nehemiah 3:31): Between the East Gate and the northeast corner of the wall. Also known as the Miphkad gate. The word in Hebrew has a military connection and according to tradition it was at this gate that David would meet his troops to inspect them.

Personal aspect: The final gate is the inspection gate. This gate speaks to us of the examination of our lives by the Lord. This occurs in this life as indicated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:4(NLT): ‘For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.’ The ultimate fulfilment is at the judgement seat of Christ (as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10(NLT) where our lives are inspected and rewarded appropriately. In our Christian experience we should be living with this in mind. We are called to live our lives with eternity in view, caring more for the things of eternity than the temporal that we see around us.

Prophetic aspect: Following the return of the Lord there is a judgement of the nations that will occur as well. This is recorded in the sheep and the goats judgement in Mathew 25:31-46. From here he will separate all the people into those that can enter into His kingdom on earth (sheep) and those that are to go into everlasting destruction (the goats). And then the Lion of Judah shall reign in His Messianic Kingdom!

Apply the metaphor to our spiritual lives. We build our spiritual walls each day as we engage in spiritual disciplines (reading the Bible, praying, obeying God…). We put a lot of work into building those walls, because we want to do our best to follow the Lord. But there’s a problem. Sometimes, we don’t do a very good job of guarding our gates (our eyes and our ears). We allow bad stuff to come into our city (our mind), and give it access to our temple (our heart). All the hard work we put into building our walls is now compromised, because we didn’t guard our gates.

Genesis 4:7(HCSB) 7 If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

The Enemy will get into our hearts and minds any way he can. If we’ve built strong spiritual walls with no gaps in them, he’s going to attack us at our gates. We need to be as diligent about guarding our gates as we are about wall-building. So, the question is, are we?

I think we underestimate the power of media in our lives. Not just “the media,” though I’m including them. I’m talking about all the types of media that we watch or listen to in a given day or week. Music, television, magazines, newspapers, email, advertisements, gossip… We let that stuff into our brains! Are we being selective enough?

We shouldn’t be naive about this. There is programming going on. When we open our eye-gates and our ear-gates to the media around us, it gets into our brains. If enough gets in, it will make its way to our hearts. That’s okay if we are only opening our gates to God-honoring messages. Program away! It will help us walk straighter. But most of us are not guarding the gates carefully enough, and bit by bit, we are filling our minds with things that don’t honor God.

When I teach kids, I do an illustration of this with a large bowl of water and some food coloring. I tell them that the bowl of water represents their minds as God created them – pure and clean. The food coloring represents some of the bad stuff we can let into our heads – profanity, the Lord’s name used in vain, music with inappropriate themes, movies with inappropriate scenes, jokes with inappropriate punch lines, stories told from inappropriate motives…

Each time I mention a new bad thing that can get into our minds, I have one of the kids drop a little food coloring into the bowl. By the time I’m done, the pure, clean water is dark and murky. It doesn’t take much to spread all throughout the water – just like it doesn’t take much bad stuff in your gates before your thinking starts to change. “It’s not so bad.” “Everyone is doing it.” “You can’t get away from it – you just have to ignore it.” “That’s just the way things are these days.”

Our brains are incredible. They can hold more data than any computer on earth. But the bad news is that they never purge all the bad information and images we put in them. Once it’s in, it’s in for good and forever. Our only hope is that we can dilute it by allowing more good stuff in our gates. That’s hard work, and it takes time.

Nehemiah set up rules for guarding the gates of Jerusalem, and he got rid of all the riff-raff that were hanging right outside the gates. Maybe we should do the same. A few gate-keeping rules might do us some good.

These are the places where things come into our minds. It’s important that we exercise some control in this area, because what gets in begins to influence how we think and how we act over time.

There’s one more gate that I may not have mentioned; it’s your mouth gate. While the ear and eye gates control what comes into your mind, the mouth gate controls what comes out of it.

You may have heard this expression before. GIGO means “Garbage In – Garbage Out.” It mainly refers to computers (i.e., don’t blame the computer…if you put in bad programming, you’re going to get a bad result.), but it applies to our mental computers, as well. If you stock your brain full of garbage, be certain that it will find it’s way back out – usually through your mouth gate.

Men, if we allow large shipments of sexual images to enter our eye gates, it won’t be long before it affects our thinking. We will start to see women more as objects than as people. When enough shipments come in, some of that thinking will find its way across our lips; I almost guarantee it.

We’ll find ourselves making lewd jokes or engaging in sexual innuendo. We’ll talk about co-workers and neighbors in terms of how they look rather than focusing on their more meaningful qualities. We’ll find it hard to resist the double entendre when we hear someone make a harmless remark.

Women, your temptation comes through both your ear gates and your eye gates. If you listen to frequent gossip and critical assessment of those around you, it will start to color your thinking. Before long, you will find yourself evaluating people in just the same, graceless way. If you watch shows or read magazines about shallow, superficial judgments of others, you will struggle not to descend to the same behaviors in your personal life.

You’ve heard the principle, “what goes up must come down.” How about “what goes in must come out?” The more junk you allow in your ear gates and eye gates, the more likely it is to find it’s way into what you talk about and how you talk about it. Jesus was communicating this principle when he said:

Matthew 15:17-20 (HCSB)17 “Don’t you realize that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. 20 These are the things that defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

Be careful what you allow in through your gates. When your heart and mind are full of garbage, you won’t be able to hide it long before the neighbors start noticing what you’re putting on the curb.

Spiritual Warfare Pt6 Shield of Faith

The shield of faith is part of the armor of God in Ephesians 6:16(HCSB)16 In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Faith is not something we conjure up on our own, nor is it something we are born with, nor is faith a result of diligence in study or pursuit of the spiritual. Ephesians 2:8-9(HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. this makes it clear that faith is a gift from God, not because we deserve it, have earned it, or are worthy to have it. It is not from ourselves; it is from God. It is not obtained by our power or our free will. Faith is simply given to us by God, along with His grace and mercy, according to His holy plan and purpose, and because of that, He gets all the glory.

The Roman shield of the time was called a scutum. This type of shield was as large as a door and would cover the warrior entirely. Such a shield was not just defensive but could also be used to push opponents. When fighting as a group, soldiers could position their shields so as to form an enclosure around themselves, called a testudo (In Latin meaning “tortoise shell”). This was especially helpful to protect against arrows launched from the walls of cities they were attacking. Shields, often made of wood and then covered in hide, when wet, could extinguish flaming arrows.

Clearly, a shield is vitally important to a soldier. It provides a blanket of protection. It is meant to be taken up in all circumstances. It is the first barrier against the enemy’s attack. Often, shields were painted with identifying marks; a Christian who takes up the shield of faith identifies himself as a foot soldier who serves the Commander of the Lord’s army.

2 Timothy 2:3-4(HCSB)3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter.

As soon as we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are drawn into a spiritual battle. It is a battle where eternal death or eternal life is at stake. It is a battle with one who is 100% committed to drawing us away from God. It is a battle that calls us to make the spiritually lost a priority as we stand in unity with Jesus. Is this the battle that we are winning? Are we truly concerned that there are real people that will die and go to Hell? Are we concerned with it? Do we know that we are in a battle, even though it is invisible and spiritual it is real and it is eternal.

Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB)Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.

Hebrews 1:6(HCSB)6 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. This verse stresses the importance of faith: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Satan’s attacks can sometimes cause us to doubt God.You start asking yourself, “Did God really say? Can I really trust God? Isn’t that just your interpretation?” Faith prompts us to believe God.

There is a saying and even a song that says “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” It may be a nice sentiment, but it’s bad theology. The truth is, “God said it, and that settles it — whether I believe it or not.” God’s truth isn’t based on whether you believe it or not. It’s still true even if you don’t believe it, because God can’t lie.

You need that kind of certainty in difficult days. With the Shield of Faith, you have certainty that God’s promises are true even when they don’t appear to be true in your life. God comes to the Garden of Eden, creates a perfect environment, creates a perfect man and perfect woman – perfect in the sense of sinlessness, not in the sense of an accomplished perfection.  And there they are, and here comes Satan, and what does he say?  “Has God really said?”  And then he says, “You know, God doesn’t want you to know good and evil because you’ll be like Him, and He doesn’t like competition.  You can’t trust God He has ulterior motives.  You can’t always believe exactly what He says.”  Satan was tempting them to doubt God and believe him.  Eve was a sucker, Eve was a fool, she believed the devil, and you know what happened.  Every temptation that ever came to you came on the tack of “believe me, not God.”

Watch this, Christ has been fasting forty days and forty nights, led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God as God prepared Him for His ministry.  At the end of that time, Satan comes to Him to tempt Him.  And how does he tempt Him? He tempts Him to not believe God – same old deal.  “Don’t believe God, believe me.”
Matthew 4:1-11(HCSB)Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. 2 After He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry. 3 Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”5 Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, and they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”7 Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”8 Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.”10 Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written:Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”11 Then the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him.

We give in to temptation when we believe what it has to offer is better than what God has promised. It’s seducing temptations, that’s all. Satan fires arrows of impurity, arrows of selfishness, doubt, fear, disappointment, lust, greed, vanity, covetousness – it all comes down to this: 1 John 2:16(HCSB) For everything that belongs to[a] the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Christians have always been, and will always be, lured by the same three temptations Eve and Jesus experienced. Satan doesn’t change his methods; he doesn’t have to because his methods continue to be successful. He tempts us with the lust of the flesh—sexual gratification, gluttony, excessive alcohol consumption, and drugs, both legal and illegal, as well as the ones which Paul warned the Galatians about, Galatians 5:19-21(ESV)“sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these”. He tempts us with the lust of the eyes—the endless accumulation of “stuff” with which we fill our homes and garages and the insatiable desire for more, better, and newer possessions, which ensnares us and hardens our hearts to the things of God.

But perhaps his most evil temptation is the pride of life, the very sin that resulted in Satan’s expulsion from heaven. He desired to be God, not to be a servant of God (Isaiah 14:12-15). The arrogant boasting which constitutes the pride of life motivates the other two lusts as it seeks to elevate itself above all others and fulfill all personal desires. It is the root cause of strife in families, churches, and nations. It exalts the self in direct contradiction to Jesus’ statement that those who would follow Him must take up their cross (an instrument of death) and deny themselves. The pride of life stands in our way if we truly seek to be servants of God. It is the arrogance that separates us from others and limits our effectiveness in the kingdom. The pride of life “comes not from the Father, but from the world.” And, as such, it is passing away with the world, but those who resist and overcome the temptation of the pride of life do the will of God, and 1 John 2:17(HCSB)17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.

In other words the arrows are, “Don’t believe God, He doesn’t keep His word, He didn’t give You the whole picture, He didn’t tell You the truth.  Believe me, do it my way.”  And that’s the way every temptation comes to every believer every time.  Satan comes along and says, “Oh yeah, I know the Bible says you’re not supposed to have sexual relationships with somebody outside of marriage, but it’s fun.” Who do you believe when you sin?  You believe the devil.  It’s the bottom line, people; it’s so simple.  When you sin, you believe Satan; when you obey, you believe God.  That’s the bottom line.  And the shield is the double protection.  “I will believe God,” said Christ.  “Get away, Satan.  God will feed Me when He’s ready, and God will anoint Me as Messiah when He’s ready, and God will give Me the kingdoms of the world when He’s ready, on His terms.  I will not believe you.”
Titus 1:1-2(HCSB)Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to build up the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.

God isn’t lying.  And yet every time you sin, you’re dumb enough to believe Satan, and so am I; we’ve been suckered again.  “Oh, I know that I ought to give this to the Lord, this is what I ought to give the Lord, but oh boy, I want to buy this, I want to do this, I want to save this.”  And so we do what we think we’re going to win by doing; we’re going to do it and we’re going just sort of shove God in a corner, it’ll all work out, you know.  And all we’ve done is cheat ourselves, see?  We just cheat ourselves.  God stands there with His hands open, and He says, “If you ask Me for bread, will I give you a stone?”  No.  “Do I want to open the windows of heaven and pour out blessing, so much you can’t contain it?  Do I want to give it back to you pressed down, shaken together, and running over?  “Do I want to bless you with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies?  Do I want to do exceedingly abundantly above all you can ask or think?  Do I want to give you every good and perfect thing that comes down from the Father of lights, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning?  Do I want to unload all of this substance of heaven all over you for as long as you live?  Yes, I do.  And will you believe Me and obey Me so I can?”  Satan comes along and says, “Do it my way, and you’ll like it.” It’ll be fun. It’ll fulfill you. You’ll gain what you desire” – it’s a lie. He is a liar, John 8:44(HCSB)44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.

Whenever you sin, you’re saying, “I really don’t believe God knows best, Satan knows best.” We say, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches and glory” and we all say, “Amen, brother, preach it.  Yes, He’ll supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus, no question about it.”  And then when we lose a job, “Ohh, God what are You doing to me? Why did you do this – see?  There’s Satan “The Lord has forsaken you,” see?

Matthew 6:33(HCSB)33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.  And we run through life seeking all the things that should be added and missing the Kingdom of God.  You see, you can’t just go around saying, “I believe God, I have faith in God, the just shall live by faith,” and then grab everything you can grab that is worldly.

So the only way to extinguish the arrows of Satan is to believe God.  The Bible says, “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.”  Who do you believe?  Abraham believed God.  Who do you believe?  Do you believe God?
In other words, what God said is true.  If you believe it and obey it, it’ll be a shield; if you mess with it, you’ll suffer, see?  Satan comes along and says, “Oh well, I know God said that, but let me add this.”  No.  No, “He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.”

Psalm 12:6(HCSB)The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times.

He literally bombards the believer with the arrows, the fiery darts of seductive temptation, to elicit out of us ungodly, non-Christlike, evil responses.  And the only defense we have at this point, Paul says, is the shield of faith, because sometimes it just rains temptation. We live in a world where it really does rain temptation, all around us, and we must have the shield of faith. Faith reminds us that, though the fulfillment of God’s promises may not be readily visible to us, God is true to His Word. When Satan attempts to plague us with doubt or entice us with instant gratification, faith recognizes the deceptiveness of his tactics and quickly extinguishes the arrows. When Satan accuses us, faith chooses to believe that Jesus has redeemed us and that there is no more condemnation. Romans 8:1(HCSB) Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,

Romans 8:34(HCSB)Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.

The term “faith” means believing God, and that is the bottom line of the Christian faith. That is the bottom line of everything we believe, everything we hold to, everything we have our confidence in. The whole of Christianity is an act of believing that God is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.  Believing that He wrote the Bible, believing that Christ is God, believing that He died, believing that He rose, believing that He’s coming, believing that by believing we can enter into His Kingdom – the whole thing.  That’s why in Habakkuk 2:4 (HCSB)Look, his ego is inflated; he is without integrity. But the righteous one will live by his faith.

Romans 1:17(HCSB)“17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.

Galatians 3:11(HCSB)11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.

Hebrews 10:36-38(HCSB)36 For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.37  For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 But My righteous one will live by faith;and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.39 But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.

Faith is our life; it is a matter of believing God.  Now, everybody lives by something, everybody has faith in something.

Faith is one of the greatest gifts, and it is the means by which we receive grace and come into right relationship with God.

Ephesians 2:8–9(HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. It is because we have been justified through faith that we belong to God and have peace with Him. Romans 5:1(HCSB)Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith is the doorway to hope in God.

Romans 5:2(HCSB)2 We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Because we have faith in God, our suffering need not faze us; in fact, we can persevere under it.
Romans 5:3–5(HCSB)3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The things Satan attempts to use to discourage us can actually become tools in the hands of God.

All believers have this promise:1 John 5:4(HCSB)4 because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. Faith is a protective barrier between us and the schemes of Satan. When we believe God and take Him at His word, we remain grounded in truth, the lies of the enemy lose their power, and we become overcomers. In that way, faith is our shield.

1 Peter 5:8-9(HCSB)8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.

We win when we believe God, we win when we trust God.  You may go through doubts, and anxieties, and fears, and worries, and concerns, and problems, and struggles, and trials, and tribulations, and persecution.  As long as you believe God, as you believe His sustenance, you believe His Word, you believe His power, you believe His promise, that doesn’t have to be a point of loss; it can be a point of strengthening, a point of gain.

The shield of faith is the consistent application of what we believe about God to the issues of life.  Now, if you don’t trust Him then you don’t know Him well enough, right – because if you really knew Him, you’d trust Him.  Oh, the more you know God, the deeper you get into the heart of God, the more you know about His truth, and the Word of God, and the more you meditate upon His person in your prayers and meditating times, the more you know God, the greater you’ll trust God, and the greater you trust God, the less likely you will be to not believe Him.

And so it all goes back, as everything does in the Christian life, to your relationship to God.  It’s there; it’s down deep in the heart.  If you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, if you believe that God is who He claimed to be, if you believe all that God’s promises that He gave to you are really true, then you’re not going to sin, because you’re going to stand in the place of the greatest blessing.  Everybody wants to be blessed, everybody wants the best.  God says, “I’ll give it to you if you do it My way.”  If you do it Satan’s way, you just disbelieved God.  But the more you know Him, the more you’ll trust Him, the more you’ll believe Him.

What is the Trinity?

The Bible clearly speaks of: God the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. But emphasizes that there is only ONE God.

If we were to use math, it would not be, 1+1+1=3. It would be 1x1x1=1. God is a triune God.•

The Trinity

◦God is three persons.

◦Each person is divine.

◦There is only one God.

Many theologians admit that the term “person” is not a perfect word to describe the three individual aspects/foci found in God.  When we normally use the word person, we understand it to mean physical individuals who exist as separate beings from other individuals.  But in God, there are not three entities nor three beings.  God is a trinity of persons consisting of one substance and one essence.  God is numerically one.  Yet, within the single divine essence are three individual subsistences that we call persons.

•Each of the three persons is completely divine in nature though each is not the totality of the Godhead.

•Each of the three persons is not the other two persons.

•Each of the three persons is related to the other two but are distinct from them.

The word “trinity” is not found in the Bible, but this does not mean that the concept is not taught there.  The word “bible” is not found in the Bible either, but we use it anyway.  Likewise, the words “omniscience,” which means “all-knowing,” “omnipotence,” which means “all-powerful,” and “omnipresence,” which means “present everywhere” are not found in the Bible either; but we use these words to describe the attributes of God. So, to say that the Trinity isn’t true because the word isn’t in the Bible is an invalid argument.

Thus the term: “Tri” meaning three, and “Unity” meaning one, Tri+Unity = Trinity.

The most difficult thing about the Christian concept of the Trinity is that there is no way to perfectly and completely understand it. The Trinity is a concept that is impossible for any human being to fully understand, let alone explain. God is infinitely greater than we are; therefore, we should not expect to be able to fully understand Him. The Bible teaches that the Father is God, that Jesus is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also teaches that there is only one God. Though we can understand some facts about the relationship of the different Persons of the Trinity to one another, ultimately, it is incomprehensible to the human mind. However, this does not mean the Trinity is not true or that it is not based on the teachings of the Bible.

The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Stated differently, God is one in essence and three in person. These definitions express three crucial truths: (1) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, (2) each Person is fully God, (3) there is only one God.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons. The Bible speaks of the Father as God (Philippians 1:2), Jesus as God (Titus 2:13), and the Holy Spirit as God (Acts 5:3–4). Are these just three different ways of looking at God, or simply ways of referring to three different roles that God plays?

The answer must be no, because the Bible also indicates that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons. For example, since the Father sent the Son into the world (John 3:16), He cannot be the same person as the Son. Likewise, after the Son returned to the Father (John 16:10), the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit into the world (John 14:26; Acts 2:33). Therefore, the Holy Spirit must be distinct from the Father and the Son.

In the baptism of Jesus, we see the Father speaking from heaven and the Spirit descending from heaven in the form of a dove as Jesus comes out of the water (Mark 1:10–11). In John 1:1(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. it is affirmed that Jesus is God and, at the same time, that He was “with God,” thereby indicating that Jesus is a distinct Person from God the Father John 1:18(HCSB)No one has ever seen God.The One and Only Son—the One who is at the Father’s side— He has revealed Him.. And in John 16:13–15(HCSB)13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you. we see that although there is a close unity between them all, the Holy Spirit is also distinct from the Father and the Son.

Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father

Romans 8:34(HCSB)Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised;He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.

Acts 7:55-56(HCSB)55 But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God’s glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, 56 “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

Ephesians 1:20(HCSB)20 He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens—

Colossians 3:1(HCSB)So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God.

Hebrews 1:3(HCSB) The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Hebrews 8:1(HCSB)Now the main point of what is being said is this: We have this kind of high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,

Hebrews 10:12-15(HCSB)12 But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. 13 He is now waiting until His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. For after He says:

Hebrews 12:2(HCSB)2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

1 Peter 3:22(HCSB) Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.

Matthew 22:44(HCSB)The Lord declared to my Lord,‘Sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies under Your feet’?

Acts 2:33(HCSB)33 Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear.

The fact that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons means, in other words, that the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. Jesus is God, but He is not the Father or the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God, but He is not the Son or the Father. They are different Persons, not three different ways of looking at God.

Sometimes the Personhood of the Father and Son is appreciated, but the Personhood of the Holy Spirit is neglected. Sometimes the Spirit is treated more like a “force” than a Person. But the Holy Spirit is not an it, but a He

John 14:26(HCSB)26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

John 16:7–15(HCSB)7 Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you. 8 When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: 9 About sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. 12 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.

The fact that the Holy Spirit is a Person, not an impersonal force (like gravity), is also shown by the fact that He speaks Hebrews 3:7-10(HCSB)7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, 8  do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,9 where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,and saw My works 10 for 40 years.Therefore I was provoked with that generation and said, “They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known My ways.”, reasons Acts 15:28(HCSB)28 For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision—and ours—to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things: thinks and understands (1 Corinthians 2:10–11(HCSB)10 Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts[b] of God except the Spirit of God., wills (1 Corinthians 12:11(HCSB)11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills., feels Ephesians 4:30(HCSB)30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption., and gives personal fellowship (2 Corinthians 13:14(HCSB)13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

These are all qualities of personhood. In addition to these texts, the others we mentioned above make clear that the Personhood of the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Personhood of the Son and the Father. They are three real persons, not three roles God plays.

Another serious error people have made is to think that the Father became the Son, who then became the Holy Spirit. Contrary to this, the passages we have seen imply that God always was and always will be three Persons. There was never a time when one of the Persons of the Godhead did not exist. They are all eternal.

While the three members of the Trinity are distinct, this does not mean that any is inferior to the other. Instead, they are all identical in attributes. They are equal in power, love, mercy, justice, holiness, knowledge, and all other qualities.

The Trinity is one God existing in three Persons. Understand that this is not in any way suggesting three Gods. Keep in mind when studying this subject that the word “Trinity” is not found in Scripture. This is a term that is used to attempt to describe the triune God—three coexistent, co-eternal Persons who make up God. Of real importance is that the concept represented by the word “Trinity” does exist in Scripture. The following is what God’s Word says about the Trinity:

1) There is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5).

2) The Trinity consists of three Persons (Genesis 1:1, 26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, 48:16, 61:1; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). In Genesis 1:1, the Hebrew plural noun “Elohim” is used. In Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7 and Isaiah 6:8, the plural pronoun for “us” is used. The word “Elohim” and the pronoun “us” are plural forms, definitely referring in the Hebrew language to more than two. While this is not an explicit argument for the Trinity, it does denote the aspect of plurality in God. The Hebrew word for “God,” “Elohim,” definitely allows for the Trinity.

The individual members of the Trinity have different tasks. The Father is the ultimate source or cause of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11); divine revelation (Revelation 1:1); salvation (John 3:16-17); and Jesus’ human works (John 5:17; 14:10). The Father initiates all of these things.

The Son is the agent through whom the Father does the following works: the creation and maintenance of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17); divine revelation (John 1:1, 16:12-15; Matthew 11:27; Revelation 1:1); and salvation (2 Corinthians 5:19; Matthew 1:21; John 4:42). The Father does all these things through the Son, who functions as His agent.

The Holy Spirit is the means by whom the Father does the following works: creation and maintenance of the universe (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30); divine revelation (John 16:12-15(HCSB)12 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.

2 Peter 1:21(HCSB)21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.; salvation ; Titus 3:5(HCSB)He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.;

1 Peter 1:2(HCSB)2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

and Jesus’ works Isaiah 61:1(HCSB)The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners;; Acts 10:38(HCSB)38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the Devil, because God was with Him.. Thus, the Father does all these things by the power of the Holy Spirit.

If there is one passage which most clearly brings all of this together, it is Matthew 28:19(ESV) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” First, notice that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinguished as distinct Persons. We baptize into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Second, notice that each Person must be deity because they are all placed on the same level. In fact, would Jesus have us baptize in the name of a mere creature? Surely not. Therefore each of the Persons into whose name we are to be baptized must be deity. Third, notice that although the three divine Persons are distinct, we are baptized into their name (singular), not names (plural). The three Persons are distinct, yet only constitute one name. This can only be if they share one essence.

“Do I have to believe in the Trinity to be saved?” The answer is yes and no. Does a person have to fully understand and agree with every aspect of Trinitarianism to be saved? No. Are there some aspects of Trinitarianism that play key roles in salvation? Yes. For example, the deity of Christ is crucially important to the doctrine of salvation. If Jesus is not God, His death could not have paid the infinite penalty of sin. Only God is infinite—He had no beginning, and He has no end. All other creatures, including angels, are finite; they were created at some point. Only the death of an infinite Being could atone for the sin of mankind throughout eternity. If Jesus is not God, He could not be the Savior, the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world John 1:29(HCSB)29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!. An unbiblical view of Jesus’ divine nature results in an errant view of salvation. Every “Christian” cult that denies the true deity of Christ also teaches that we must add our own works to Christ’s death in order to be saved. The true and full deity of Christ, an aspect of Trinitarianism, refutes this concept.

In conclusion;

1. The Trinity is not belief in three gods. There is only one God, and we must never stray from this.

2. This one God exists as three Persons.

3. The three Persons are not each part of God, but are each fully God and equally God. Within God’s one undivided being there is an unfolding into three interpersonal relationships such that there are three Persons. The distinctions within the Godhead are not distinctions of His essence and neither are they something added onto His essence, but they are the unfolding of God’s one, undivided being into three interpersonal relationships such that there are three real Persons.

4. God is not one person who took three consecutive roles. That is the heresy of modalism. The Father did not become the Son and then the Holy Spirit. Instead, there have always been and always will be three distinct persons in the Godhead.

5. The Trinity is not a contradiction because God is not three in the same way that He is one. God is one in essence, three in Person.

Spiritual Warfare Pt5 Shoes Gospel of Peace

Ephesians 6:11–17(HCSB) instructs believers in Christ to “put on the whole armor of God” as a defense against Satan’s attacks. This armor includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace,the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Ephesians 6:15(HCSB)and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. The New Living Translation words it: Ephesians 6:15(NLT)“For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.” The gospel of peace is the message that Jesus gave to those who trust in Him.
John 14:27(HCSB)27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.
Romans 10:15(HCSB)
15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!  It comes with the assurance from God that we are His children and nothing can snatch us out of His hands. The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, John 10:27-29(HSCB) My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. Both Jesus and the Father have us firmly grasped in their hand. Who could possibly separate us from the grip of both the Father and the Son? Jesus tells us that he gives eternal life to the sheep, the Christians.  He clearly and definitely states that they shall never perish.  There is no exception here.  There is no statement such as, “they shall never perish if they remain faithful.”  There is only the clear declaration that they shall never perish.  This inability to perish is a result of the Lord Jesus giving them eternal life. Jesus says that no one shall snatch them out of his hand, which further emphasizes the idea that those who have eternal life will never perish.  But, can we snatch ourselves out of Jesus’ hand?  No, we can’t because the term “no one” includes the person who is saved.  Therefore, you cannot snatch yourself out of Christ’s hand. Ephesians 4:30 (HCSB) And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. tells us that believers are “sealed for the day of redemption.” If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16 (HCSB) so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 5:13(HCSB)13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.This tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.

What sin is so big that Jesus’ death could not atone for it? Every sin that man can commit against God and man, even the most heinous was dealt with at the cross. If this is so, then what sin can be so bad that it would cause God to “unforgive” that which He has already paid for?

The most powerful argument for eternal security is Romans 8:38-39 (HCSB)For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers,39 height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Our eternal security is based on God’s love for those whom He has redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit. This passage outlines clearly what is the gospel.
1 Corinthians 15:1–6(HCSB)Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. 2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose.3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. 6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep.

Any other message is a false gospel.

Firstly we should have a clear understanding of the gospel of peace if we are to appreciate the material of which these shoes are made. By now the saint is dressed with a belt made of truth and a breastplate made of righteousness.

Before we focus on the word “readiness” and its place in the armor of God, we have to learn about the gospel of peace. The gospel that we have for the world—for our lost mom,dad,brother,sister,neighbor or unreached people group—the gospel that we have is the good news that God purchased peace by the death of his Son and offers it to sinners who believe in Jesus. We have the good news that God’s omnipotent wrath against sinners has been taken away through the death of Jesus for sin. And everyone who believes is reconciled to him freely by grace. And in the place of hostility and war comes peace. And there is nothing sweeter in all the world than to be at peace with God.

Ephesians 2:13-18(HCSB)13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. 14 For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In His flesh, 15 He made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. 16 He did this so that He might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross and put the hostility to death by it. 17 When the Messiah came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father

The good news of peace is that when Christ died and shed his blood for sin, two kinds of hostility or animosity were overcome. The war between God and repentant sinners was brought to an end. And the war between races and factions in Christ was brought to an end. So Christ became our peace. That is the gospel of peace. Shoes made from the preparation of the gospel of peace are our third piece of vital armor. The gospel of peace is good news. God forgives and then He gives. What could be greater? The gospel takes a hopeless being and fills him or her with an eternity of glory. Even the afflictions of this world are too thin of a veil to darken the joy of the good news of Jesus.

Imagine a fully armed soldier. He has his sword, his shield, his helmet, his breastplate and his belt…but his feet are completely bare. The picture probably seems strange, and it should! Just by thinking about it, we can tell something is missing. But the problem goes beyond just looking odd. A shoeless soldier could run into real trouble in the heat of battle. Unless he is fighting on carpet, he is going to encounter some debris. It may be nothing more than twigs and pebbles, but to a bare foot that can cause serious pain—and one of the last things you want to deal with in the middle of a fight is worrying about where you step. Parents you know what I mean…. lego…. ever stepped on a lego barefoot?

Shoes allow us to step freely and without fear while we turn our full attention to the battle at hand.

The sandals of the Roman soldier “often were fitted with nails, or armed with spikes, to make the hold firm in the ground” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible). God’s good news and our mission—our marching orders—to preach it serve as our firm foundation. When we truly allow ourselves to take comfort in the good news promised by God, there is nothing from outside ourselves that can trouble our hearts or give us reason to be afraid. Christ has overcome the world and so we have nothing to fear from it. John 16:33(HCSB)33 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

Just as shoes allow us to walk on otherwise painful terrain without fear, so the preparation of the gospel of peace allows us to travel across the otherwise painful trials and tribulations of life without fear, knowing that what awaits is greater than anything we could possibly suffer in this world.
Romans 8:18(HCSB)18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.

How long can anyone walk a hard and stony road without a decent pair of shoes? Not far if the right shoes are not on. Many have gone into battle without a proper preparation. This kind of preparation comes only from the gospel. Again, just like we saw with the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, there are two aspects to the shoes we wear. The soles that keep us going over hard ground, and the soles which equip us with something to offer to the needy souls along the way.

The word readiness indicates we must be constantly awake and aware. A victorious soldier had to be prepared for battle. He had to have studied his enemy’s strategy, be confident in his own strategy, and have his feet firmly planted so that he could hold his ground when the attacks came. A soldier’s battle shoes were studded with nails or spikes, like cleats, to help him keep his balance in combat. He knew that, if he lost his footing and went down, it wouldn’t matter how great the rest of his armor was; the enemy had him. When we are ready with the gospel of peace, we live with the understanding that we are continually under attack from Satan.

All Life Is War From the cradle to the grave, life is war. Your soul, your mind, your body, your family, your career, are all fields of conflict. Until Satan is finally thrown into the lake of fire, our peace with God will have to be a vigilant peace. Because Satan will certainly give us no peace if we are at peace with God.

The “peace shoes” that God supplies His soldiers have two purposes: defensive and offensive. In order to defend ourselves against the “flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16), we must have confidence of our position in Christ. We must stand firm in the truth of God’s Word, regardless of how terrifying the circumstances may be. We must understand grace without abusing it (Romans 6:1–6), remember that our position in Christ is not based on our own abilities or worthiness Titus 3:5(HCSB)He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit., and keep our belt of truth and breastplate of righteousness securely fastened.

Romans 8:37-39(HCSB)37 No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, 39 height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

The foot is to the body what the will is to the spirit. We go wherever our will takes us. We are a Trichotomy(a division into three categories). Just as we serve a Triune God(Father, Son, Holy Spirit)
1. Spirit – Justified – Saved

2. Soul (Mind Will and Emotions) Sanctified – Being Saved

3. Body – Glorified – Will be saved

Preparation, the Christian’s spiritual readiness, is our feet laced up with the gospel of peace. The gospel sets the will of the Christian. It gives us a purpose and a focus. It presents us with a message and a task. It gives meaning to life and nothing else seems to matter.

There is no calling without the gospel. Romans 10:13-15(HCSB)13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!There is no sacrifice without an understanding. A barefooted man shrinks when his feet touch the hot sand and shrieks when he stumbles on a sharp stone. But when the will and heart are prepared and ready to serve the Lord, the Christian feet is prepared and equipped to face any trouble he must go through to complete the task ahead. 1 Corinthians 10:13(HCSB)13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.

In addition to standing our ground, shoes are also for moving. God expects us to go on the offensive and take the gospel of peace to others. Sharing our faith is one of the best ways to maintain our own sure footing. God knows that, when we are active in speaking about Him to others, we not only charge into Satan’s territory, but we dig our shoes more deeply into truth and will be much harder to dislodge. When we have 2 Timothy 2:15(HCSB)15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth, we are ready to stand firm in the gospel of peace no matter what the enemy brings against us.

We need to remind ourselves the reason for the battle we are engaged in. Christ has brought you out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:13-14(HCSB)13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. 14 We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.

1Peter 2:9(HCSB)But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession,so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.He has put His spirit in you that you might work the works of GOD. Satan hates a witness for Christ, therefore is the reason for the battle. We should never forget the message, the gospel, we are to proclaim. What is the gospel? Make sure you understand the message we are to take to the world. Whether you are a singer, writer or teacher it makes no difference. We all have one message and focus, and that is to spread the love of Christ. Here is something you have to do. Prepare your self. As the scripture says 2 Timothy 4:2(HCSB)Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.

The Gospel is laid out plainly in;

Romans 5:6-11(HCSB)For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.

The gospel gives us a message. Let your life radiate this message. If satan can get you from being a testimony in word, works and deed he has taken away a great weapon. No matter our callings or gifting the purpose is always the same. To make Christ known. God intends us all to be walking vessels of his goodness. Spreading the love of Christ to others. As we get more familiar with the gospel we will discover a message worth living for. Prepare yourself to follow the Lord no matter what.

It’s almost certain that Paul has in mind here the words of Isaiah 52:7(ESV)

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Here we have a picture of the feet of people who are running to bring good news, and the good news is good news of peace. Surely this is where Paul got his imagery. And if so, then the “readiness of the gospel of peace” is surely a readiness to move with the gospel, a readiness to tell the good news,to publish peace and say “God reigns!”

In Ephesians 6 that the passage on spiritual warfare comes right after the passage on husbands and wives, children and parents, and masters and slaves. If you turn to Colossians 3, near the end you see that the same three pairs are dealt with—wives and husbands (3:18–19), children and parents (3:20–21), and masters and slaves (3:22–4:1). But then instead of a paragraph on spiritual armor Paul calls for vigilant prayer (Colossians 4:2–4), and look what he says in verses Colossians 4:5–6(HCSB),Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.

Here in a context much like the one in Ephesians is an exhortation to be alert to how you can be the salt of the earth, to answer unbelievers’ questions, and to make the most of the time for the sake of Christ. I think Paul means by the readiness of the gospel of peace is Being prepared,being alert and ready to talk about the gospel.

In 1 Peter 3:15(HCSB) the very word “ready” is used in the same kind of exhortation. 15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. A ready offense is an essential part of a successful defense. Giving the gospel away is one of the best ways of experiencing its power in your own life. The best way to taste the power of God for your own soul is to venture something on it. It’s the great old truth of the Lord himself when he said, “He who loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” The more ready we are to move with the gospel, the more life and power and joy and security we will know in the gospel.