Sunday, August 30, 2009

“Prepare for Battle” (v. 10-11, 18)

S-1136 8/30/09 12SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #660; (S) #662; L. S.#666; #656; #665; (C)#671

Texts Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9; Ephesians 6:10-20; Mark 7:14-23

Theme: “Prepare for Battle” (v. 10-11, 18)

Question: “What are you battling now?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Gospel lesson: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil... praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (v. 10-11, 18).


Saints in Christ, I don’t know if you have ever been in a battle or prepared for one.  Ask our Veterans and they will tell what it takes to prepare for a battle. There are many things to do and complete before you go to war.

I remember well as a child, the many hours and drills we had when I was in school in the Old country. In 1966, I was only 11 years old and in the 4th grade. For a whole year, Israel was preparing for war against Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. At home and in school we prepared for the upcoming battle. In school, the children took construction paper and painted them black. Taped those papers to the windows, and crisscrossed the windows with masking tape; and moved everything away from doors and windows. Tunnels were dug throughout the school so that we could escape to the bomb shelters. We would practice and prepare for the battle as if it was real. At an unknown hour in the day, the sirens would blow and we only had 3 minutes to empty the classroom. The teacher would shut the light off and at her command all 40 of us children would get on our knees, begin to crawl as fast as possible through tunnels and hide in the bomb shelters. It was frightening to do, but something that we needed. We practiced because war was imminent. 

Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us today, that we need to prepare for battle. Not for bombs and bullets, not for laser guided missiles or IED’S (Improvised Explosive Devices); “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (v.12b). In other word, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the devil and his demonic forces. And the only way to be prepared for battle is to have the weapon that can destroy, demolish and devastate the enemy. This weapon is not man’s power or might, not planes or tanks and not even nuclear bomb, but the living Word of God.

It is the Word of the Living God that will destroy, demolish and devastate the enemy. Our only offensive weapon is the Word of God, the written Word of the Holy prophets and apostles. Our solid weapon is the 6 arsenal garments Paul highlights for us to wear and use against the enemy of our soul. Our only true weapon of defense against all the cunning attacks of the wicked one, remains faith and salvation by grace in Christ Jesus alone. Anyone of us who hold to this gift of faith and firmly hold to the Word of God will fight the battle even if all devils, the entire world, and his own flesh rage against him.

Our good Dr. Martin Luther got it right when he wrote in the great battle hymn of the Reformation (which is one of hymns for today) “though devils all the world should fill, All eager to devour us, We tremble not, we fear no ill; They shall not over power us. This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will, He can harm us none, He’s judged the deed is done; one little Word can fell him.” Here is the absolute truth. If you want to be prepared for the battle, know the Word, study the Word, cling to the Word, and live by the Word. It is the LIVING WORD THAT WILL DEFELECT, DIVERT AND DETER our enemy from overcoming us. PAUSE.

But what do we do? More often than not, we attempt to fight the enemy on his own terms. We think we are mighty; we can handle it on our own. We think if we tighten our belts, if we pull our boot we can defeat the enemy. YOU CAN’T. If you enter the camp of the enemy know that he will chew you and spit you out like nothing. On your own it is impossible to fight and win. By your might, strength, or wisdom you will be defeated. But all is not lost. Our situation is far from hopeless! We have the answer. It is God’s mighty, moving, marching Word. It needs to be part and parcel of who we are.

We who live in the Midwest know the wisdom that has been given us through the ages, by grandparents, loving parents and caring weather forecasters. When the storms of winter come and the howling wind and wind-chill blow on the plains; they tell us to prepare for it. Dress warmly. Make sure you cover every part of your body before your leave the house. And if you have to travel make sure that you have enough gas, cell phone and a survival kit.

Paul gave that advice first to the Ephesians. He told them to prepare for battle by taking the 6 arsenal weapons to defeat the demonic forces that will rage and roar and rant against us. A well equipped warrior will take these 6 arsenal weapons and put them to a good use. 1. He has to gird himself with a belt so his long garments do not hinder his movement. 2. He has to guard his chest with a breastplate. 3. He has to put on iron-clasped boots as to cover his feet. 4. He has to protect his body with a shield and 5, his head with a helmet. And finally 6, he must take with him the sword of the Spirit to attack.

These are your arsenal weapons ye soldiers of the cross. Prepare for battle by dressing up by the garments that Christ Himself has provided for us. For when we do, we are guaranteed the victory. A victory that He has already won for us when He fought the ultimate fight for our souls. PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, just like us who are the redeemed of the Lord; Jesus, too, prepared for battle in the Garden of Gethsemane. Come close with me please (motion to one corner of the Sanctuary) and notice what the Commander in Chief is doing. Do you see Him? Do you hear Him? Have you noticed Him? Take a closer look please. There He is on His knees in prayer with the Father. He knew the battle was coming, coming so close that you could hear the whispers of the tempter in His ears as the battle lines that would lead to the cross are being drawn. His preparations are so fervent that He even sweats blood. But the greatest battle of all time would take the greatest preparation and effort.

And on the cross, Jesus has won the day. His prayerful preparations in the Garden led to the tremendous victory at the cross. The most brutal fighting of the campaign is done. Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of Lord’s have spilled His blood on the battlefield and the victory is assured.

However, there are still the mop up operations that must happen. Until our Lord comes again, we too will daily struggle with the demonic insurgency called the devil that is allied with our own sinful self and the world’s desires. We will do battle every day as the new creation in us seeks to be filled with God’s Word and life. And where are we called to prepare for battle? Is it not in the same location as our fearless General and Leader Jesus? Was He not in prayer before battle? This is where the Lord would lead us as well. For on our knees before the Good and Gracious Lord will we find the work and will to fight the fight that each day calls us to. PAUSE.

Study the text again and you would clearly see the image that Pastor Paul shares with us today:  He paints this formidable soldier ready for battle. Dressed with the proper attire with helmet, boots, sword, shield and belt, but the one thing that is exposed are the knees. Why you might ask? Because that is how we can bend the knees in prayers before the Almighty General and Chief Commander Jesus.

We are to pray (a) at all times.  We are not to take a vacation from prayer.  To cut off our prayers is to cut off much of our strength like Samson did.  We are to pray for (b) fellow soldiers.  Paul urges supplications for all the saints.  There is to be no jealousy or competition within the ranks of God’s people, but encouraging one another.  And so we continually intercede for those soldiers around us. And we find that we can be very open and honest with our heavenly Father, and so we can pray (c) with specific requests.  Paul asks the Ephesians to pray that he may declare the Word of God fearlessly.

Soldiers of the cross, are you ready for battle? First class private have you wore the battle armor today? If not please do so. By the mighty Spirit of God wear them as a soldier prepares for battle; as a police officer wears a bullet proof vest. Putting on a bullet proof indicate you are vulnerable. You can’t do it on your own. You need the protection of the Armor of God. There is only one weak spot for a bullet proof vest—that is the back. Only the back is lacking a spiritual armor “part”, so God’s response to us, DON’T WORRY, I got our back!

Join me in thanking the Commander in Chief our Great General who gave us His arsenal to be prepared for battle. Amen.

Now the peace…

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