Church Defined Chosen to Stand

Net Questions

1. Do you believe spiritual warfare is a reality? Why or why not?

God's Word is clear on the reality of Spiritual warfare. Paul said in Ephesians 6:11-12... 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

2. How can we stand strong and firm agains such odds? What can you do when you are weak and tired? Paul gives good wisdom on this in our text and also shares a personal testimony in his second letter to the Corinthians.
Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
2 Cor 12:9  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
2 Cor 12:10  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

3. Paul also made it clear that spiritual attacks would come our way and we are to be ready. What are some of the ways we can be ready when the spiritual attacks come our way? Hints can be found in Paul's description of Spiritual Armor. Some of these items will be discussed further in part two of this message.
Ephesians 6:14 (NIV)14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
Ephesians 6:15 (NIV)15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

4. How does the shield of faith help us when we are attacked by discouragement, depression, struggles, temptations, suffering, etc?
Col 2:5  For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
Col 2:6  So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him,
Col 2:7  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Col 2:8  See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Col 2:9  For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
Col 2:10  and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.


Full Sermon Notes
 


Church Defined
Chosen to Stand
Part 1

Ephesians 6:10-24

Introduction

 Just in case you didn't know, there's a spiritual battle raging out there!!
 And just in case you didn't know, there's a spiritual battle raging in here!!
That's right!! This morning, many of you are in the fight of your life and it's a fight for your life, your marriage, your children, your future and even your eternity!

 The intensity of the spiritual war and the fierceness of individual battles continues to mount with each passing day!

 In these years of ministry I've discovered that Satan, tho defeated by the Cross of Jesus, continues his struggle against the God of the Universe and Satan has this warped view that somehow he's gonna win the war!

 The good news is that we all know Jesus defeated death and the grave when He resurrected from the grave. I think Satan was pretty shocked when he found out that death couldn't hold on to Jesus and the grave couldn't contain the power of the incarnate God.

 As we studied last week, Jesus died for His Bride the Church. The Church is made up of all who have been willing to respond to the fact that God has chosen to love sinners and makes a way for all who call upon the Name of the Lord to be forgiven!

 That forgiveness allows a person to be reconciled, redeemed, recovered, restored, repurposed, reborn!!

 So we know God wins the war in the end!
I read the back of the Book!!!
The critical bit of information for each of us this morning is to understand it's not the outcome of the war we need to be concerned about. Rather, it's the outcome of the individual and very personal spiritual battles you and I face on a daily basis!!

God's going to win the war. The question is whether or not we will allow God to win the daily battles we face.  

 Are you ready for a confession from the preacher?

This past week I faced some tremendous spiritual battles.

Your staff has been in deep discussions concerning what we've been doing to fulfill our God given mission of Transforming worship, people and the world. Not only what we've been doing, but how have we been doing? Have we been effective? Have we effectively led people to Jesus? Have we effectively helped them become fully devoted followers of Christ?

Have we created an environment in which people could come to a powerful and relevant worship experience, and also get connected in a deeper way with God and with other disciples? Have we helped you get committed in your walk with God to the point of being involved in the mission?

I thought about the hundreds of people who've walked through these doors in the last five years that we no longer see. I think about the thousands of people outside these doors who desperately need everything Jesus desperately wants to give them, but somehow we've not reached them.

When God leads us to do a good and honest inspection of our lives it is designed to move us toward His amazing plan for our lives. However, Satan is always looking for a way to thwart God's plans. Satan wants us to get discouraged, down, and disheartened. We have to understand this dynamic.

It's spiritual warfare!
The Holy Spirit is trying to move us upwards to God's best and Satan is trying to move us downward and away from God!

 God has been trying to get me to see how we can better accomplish His will, but at the same time Satan has been trying to get me to get me discouraged!
God wants me to examine everything to make sure we're doing our very best. Satan wants me to question everything, become cynical and give up!!

 I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Today's sermon is not just for you, it's for the preacher too!!

So with that in mind, let's pray and ask God to use our Bible text today to give us what we need to do spiritual battle!

PRAY!

 Our text for today is Ephesians 6:10-24.
If you have your Bible with you feel free to read along. If you don't have your Bible with you, our text will be on the screen!

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)

11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:11 (NIV)

12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:13 (NIV)

14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
Ephesians 6:14 (NIV)

15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Ephesians 6:15 (NIV)

16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)

17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)

18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
Ephesians 6:19 (NIV)

20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Ephesians 6:20 (NIV)

21Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing.
Ephesians 6:21 (NIV)

22I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.
Ephesians 6:22 (NIV)

23Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 6:23 (NIV)

24Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
Ephesians 6:24 (NIV)

Stand Strong

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)

The only way to stand strong in spiritual warfare is to stand strong in the Lord and in His mighty power!!!
If you try to fight spiritual warfare in your own power and strength you will fail!

The Psalmist put it this way...

1I love you, O LORD, my strength.
Psalm 18:1 (NIV)

2The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2 (NIV)

3I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.
Psalm 18:3 (NIV)

4The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
Psalm 18:4 (NIV)

5The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.
Psalm 18:5 (NIV)

6In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
Psalm 18:6 (NIV)

Isn't it an amazing thing that we can call on our Lord's name when we are struggling and know that our cries come before Him and into His ears?


I'm so grateful I don't have to depend on my own strength, my own wisdom, my own ability, or my own resources!
If I had to depend on myself I would have been out of the fight a long time ago!!

But I will say with the Psalmist,

2The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2 (NIV)

So we are to Stand Strong in Him!!
But we are also to ...

Stand Offensively


11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:11 (NIV)

Paul tells us to suit up with the full armor of God so that we can take our stand against the devil's schemes! In other words, as followers of Christ, we don't just get saved and then just sit back in our easy chair and wait for Him to come take us home someday!

No! In fact God has called us out! We've been called to go into enemy territory and rescue the perishing, release the captives, and set the prisoners free. It's what Jesus did, it's what Paul did, it's what we do!


We read the following Scripture a few weeks ago, but I must read it to you again because it helps define the church, and remember you are the church!!

17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
Luke 4:17 (NIV)

18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
Luke 4:18 (NIV)

19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:19 (NIV)

Now you might be tempted to say, "But Bro. Larry, that Scripture was meant for Jesus! That's what His Heavenly Father had sent Him to do, not me!"

Really, let me share with you what Jesus said about this...

19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
John 20:19 (NIV)

20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
John 20:20 (NIV)

21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
John 20:21 (NIV)

I've got a question for you…"You gonna argue with Jesus?"

I hope not. You know what makes me sad?
We've got a lot of window shopping going on in the Christian community.

What I'm going to say might be a little offensive to some of you, but please hear me out, it's important.
I understand people need to make sure they're in a church that preaches the Word of God and is on mission with God!


However, what happens many times is people are not looking for a church where they can roll up their sleeves and help the church achieve its God given mission, they are instead consumers looking for the place that will best serve their needs!

So they travel around looking for the church that will do something for them rather than a church where they can do something for God!

"Well they didn't have such and such ministry for our youth, or for our children." Did you ever consider God might just be calling you to jump in there and help make it happen.

I want to share with you something about a young friend of mine. In fact he is a friend of our church, even though you've never met him. When Katrina hit us, Steven Furtick had just started a church called Elevation Church in Charlotte  North Carolina. They had 17 people meeting in his living room. He called me and said they wanted their church to be radical givers to God's work.

They sent 700.00 to us. That's a big love offering for 17 people! Well God has blessed their generosity. They now average over 10,000 in attendance at their Sunday worship services!
Stephen has stated that their mission is to seek and to save that which is lost. The same mission Jesus had when on this earth. The church exist to reach the lost, not to make the saved comfortable and happy. Once you receive Jesus, the church has a responsibility to disciple you as a follower of Christ! We have a responsibility to help you grow spiritually, and to teach you the doctrines and principles of God's precious Word. However, the purpose of your training is so you can take part in the mission of the church and help us reach a lost and dying world for Christ. No doubt about it, Jesus will change your way of life, your family, your attitudes and actions, but He will also change your life's mission. You'll begin to desire the things Christ desires. And what is that? You'll desire for others to come to know the love, forgiveness, and life changing power of God!!

 People have posted on Steven's statement that the church's mission is to reach the lost…
One person said he is totally wrong and that "the mission of the church is not to reach the lost, but is to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry".
What?
My question, what is ministry if it is not to reach the lost and make disciples of them?

Steven says they have 100 people a month coming to Jesus. Wow! He says they're...
"Focused like a laser!"
Sounds like a church on mission to me!!

Here's the deal…there's a spiritual battle going on for the souls of men, women, boys and girls. We've got to decide whether or not we're going to get in the fight. We are to go on the offense against Satan's evil schemes.
But we also must be defensive!

Stand Defensively

12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:13 (NIV)

We must realize that our fight is not against flesh and blood. Now I know, Satan many times works through people. In fact, if you think about it, most of your problems and issues in this life may come from other people when they do what they're not supposed to do or don't do what they're supposed to do!

But you've got to understand that there's a spiritual battle going on in high places. Sometimes people are being used as pawns in Satan's evil schemes and they don't even realize it! That's why it is so critical that God's children be suited up with the whole armor of God at all times.

Police officers know that a bullet proof vest will do them no good if it is in the trunk of their police car. They must wear it for it to do its job.
So it is with spiritual armor.

Did you notice what Paul said about the day of evil? He didn't say if it comes, he said when it comes! And if you have the full armor of God on, you will be able to stand.

Let me say a quick word about the armor of God. The armor of God is the very armor that God wears when He does spiritual battle. Check this out...

15Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice.
Isaiah 59:15 (NIV)

16He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.
Isaiah 59:16 (NIV)

17He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Isaiah 59:17 (NIV)

So we wear the same armor God wears!! How cool is that?

This armor will allow you to ...

 Stand Firm

14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
Ephesians 6:14 (NIV)

In spiritual warfare we have the upper hand because we live by the truth.
In fact we were saved by believing the truth about Jesus...


13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
Ephesians 1:13 (NIV)

Earlier in the letter to the Ephesians Paul had said...

14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Ephesians 4:14 (NIV)

15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)

And what about that breastplate of righteousness?
Peter stated it beautifully...


1Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
2 Peter 1:1 (NIV)

2Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2 Peter 1:2 (NIV)

3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
2 Peter 1:4 (NIV)

 It's God's righteousness, not yours, that will make a powerful and protective breastplate!

Paul then talks about our army boots!!

15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Ephesians 6:15 (NIV)

I believe the soldier in God's army is always ready at any moment to take the gospel to a person who needs the precious message of God's love and forgiveness!!
The Prophet Isaiah put it this way...

7How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)

And what about that faith we've received?
It becomes a part of the armor of God...

16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)

When you are attacked by Satan with anger, bitterness, condemnation, criticism, depression, despair, doubt, fear, hurt, pain, temptation, uncertainty, you name it, hold up your shield of faith! It will extinguish Satan's fiery darts!!  

1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 5:1 (NIV)

2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:2 (NIV)

3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
Romans 5:3 (NIV)

4perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:4 (NIV)

5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:5 (NIV)

 End Sermon here!!!