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Church Defined

Chosen to Stand part 2

Net Questions
1. How faithful are you when it comes to putting on the full armor of God on a daily basis?

2. Why do you think it’s so hard to remain faithful in our daily walk with God? Could it be apathy, busyness, distractions, disobedience? The writer of Hebrews gives us some good advice to help us stay faithful...
Heb 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Heb 12:2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Heb 12:3  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

3. What are some of the possible ramifications of living without the protection of the armor of God?
1 Pet 5:8  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

4. Paul mentioned several weapons of spiritual warfare. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, studying and knowing the Word of God, and prayer. Discuss each of these and why they are so vital to victory in the spiritual arena.
Eph 6:17  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Eph 6:18  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Church Defined
Chosen to Stand
Part II

Ephesians 6:10-24

It's so good to be here this morning. However, I must tell you it was an amazing week. We had an awesome team that went to Haiti and God did some awesome things! God willing I will be sharing some pictures and video with you soon.

I know God did some amazing things here as well. I listened to Jay's message on podcast. Wow!! What a message!! The  apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer. I really appreciate Jay doing such a powerful job of sharing God's message with the church.

Jay is presently on a 4 week sabbatical working on a project to help Northshore Church become the church God desires for us to be. He is looking at ways we can be more effective at getting people to come, connect and commit! It is our desire to see God use Northshore church to radically transform worship, people and the world!!

Now I must tell you our enemy, Satan, despises our purpose, our mission and our vision. There is a very real spiritual battle ragging in which Satan is desperately trying to silence the messengers of the Church.

 I won't say any names, because it's not necessary and this podcast is available anywhere in the world, but I want to tell you that there are many causalities in this spiritual war!!
I found out only a few days ago that a man of God whom I deeply love, abruptly quit the ministry!
 I was broken hearted.

Am I disappointed? Yes indeed! But my faith is not in a man, my faith is in Almighty God!

I do however wonder, how does Satan take down a man of God? Why do I ask these questions? Because I want to learn from other's mistakes. I want to know how I can remain faithful to the call until the day I die!! Not for my glory, but to the Glory of God!!

Jay said some very kind things about me in his message. However, I must be quick to tell you it's only the Grace of God and His strength, His mercy, His power and His armor that has allowed me to serve Him these 30 something years...

When I hear things like I heard this week, it helps me remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church. Two verses of Scripture. The first verse is one of my life verses. Listen...

12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV)

13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

What is the way out? How can we stand up under Satan's attacks. The answer is found in the text for this two part sermon, Chosen to Stand! Let's read it together and as we read I will remind you of the points I made in part one of this message two weeks ago...

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

Stand Strong

Remember, we talked about standing in strong in the Lord and His mighty power, not our own!!

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

Stand Offensively

We put on the full armor of God so we can go on the offensive against Satan's evil schemes!! We also learned who we're up against in spiritual warfare...

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)

When I read this verse I shudder to think I would ever try to fight the battle on my own strength or with my own wisdom.
It would be utterly foolish!

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)

Stand Defensively

In other words, we stand defensively. We stand our ground when Satan and his evil forces try to rob us of what God has promised us!! We don't back down! We don't run and hide! We know who is on our side and He's bigger, smarter, and more powerful than Satan could ever be!

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

Stand Firm

We stand firm, because we stand on God's truth!! We stand firm because we are protected by a breastplate of God's righteousness and not our own good works!!
Let's read on...

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

We stand firm because our feet are fitted with the most awesome foot wear ever made…The Gospel of Peace. We stand firm because the Gospel we preach is a powerful message, a foundational message, the message the world desperately needs!!

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)

We stand firm because of Who we place our faith in! I've said it many times before, it is not how much faith we have but Who we place our faith in. And never forget we must have faith and trust that God's plan is truly the best plan for our lives.

So many lose the battle here. They don't trust God's plan for their life. They would rather carry out their own plans.
Not a wise decision, but many make it.
When you're following your own plan and Satan starts throwing the fiery darts, you're not going to have a shield of faith. You'll hold up your plan, your blueprints, your desires, your goals, your aspirations, and Satan will just laugh.

Why? Because your faith will be in your self, your own plans. Satan doesn't fear you or your plans. His darts will get right through.
However, if you know you're doing what God has called you to do, you'll have a confidence that will extinguish Satan's darts and send him packing.

Listen to the Psalmist...

8Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

9Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD, for I hide myself in you.
Psalm 143:9 (NIV)

10Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Psalm 143:10 (NIV)

11For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
Psalm 143:11 (NIV)

12In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.
Psalm 143:12 (NIV)

So powerful!!! The Psalmist put his faith in God Almighty and when the enemy attacked, he was protected!! The Psalmist desired to do the will of God, so when Satan tried to defeat him, Satan was going up against God's will, not the Psalmist's!!

Now back to our text...

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

Don't forget your helmet! I just can't for the life of me figure out why kids think helmets are dumb. The pros wear them and they've got some pretty cool looking gear out there today.
But for some reason, people think it's not cool to be safe.

I told a kid the other day, "You may be tough, and hard headed, but your skull bone is only so thick and it's no match for concrete!"
He said, "I don't wear helmets!"

Spiritually you need a helmet. Without it you're in grave danger. A person who doesn't have salvation is susceptible to Satan's deception and destruction! They are spiritually vulnerable!

On the other hand, a person who has received the gift of salvation stands firm!

We stand firm and even if we took a blow to the head, we would still stand because of the helmet of Salvation. This helmet protects us in a powerful way. Once we've accepted God's gift of salvation provided by Jesus on the Cross, our soul is protected!! Jesus put it this way...

27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27 (NIV)

28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
John 10:28 (NIV)

29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
John 10:29 (NIV)

30I and the Father are one.”
John 10:30 (NIV)

Let me put it this way...

You don't get saved by grace and then stay saved by your good works!

If we are saved by grace, we stay saved by grace!

When Satan comes against me with doubts, fear, discouragement, and accusations, my "know so" hope is found in my salvation. My salvation is not up to me, it's up to Jesus, therefore, I don't have to fear!
Listen to Paul's words in Thessolonians...   

8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 (NIV)

9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NIV)

10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
1 Thessalonians 5:10 (NIV)

11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

So remember, your Salvation depends on Jesus and not you! Satan can’t steal your salvation. However, you must never forget this: When Satan realizes he’s lost your soul he knows he can’t get it back, so he refocuses his attention on stealing your joy, your witness and your effectiveness in God’s kingdom. In other words, he wants to wreck your life!! You must put on the full armor of God and walk in the Lord’s presence on a daily basis to defend against Satan’s attacks. But we should not only put on the full armor of God, we also need to take up our spiritual weapons.

In our text Paul moves from armor to weapons...

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

 Weapon: The Holy Spirit's Sword

Jesus lives in our hearts by way of His precious and powerful Holy Spirit!!

When we allow the Lord to fill us with His Holy Spirit on a daily basis and we are in the Word of God, we have an offensive weapon with which we can defeat our enemies.  

Remember when Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the desert? What did Jesus do?
He quoted Scripture and the Spirit used that Word as a sword to soundly defeat Satan's attempts to destroy Jesus and His ministry!
Satan left defeated!

Are you reading, studying and meditating on God's Word daily? It's the sword the Holy Spirit wants to use to help you win the spiritual battles you face. The temptations, the despair, the discouragement, the depression, the fear, the doubt, the uncertainty!

12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

I want to give you an personal illustration of how The Spirit of God used the Word as a sword in my life.
When I was a young man, around 20 years of age, I was working at a church as children's minister and bus ministry director. I also co-managed the apartments where I lived.

The other manager and I were invited to have dinner with a lady and her niece. Two single guys, far away from home, we were excited about a home cooked meal!
That morning my devotion was
Proverbs 7. At the time I didn't think it had much application to my life. I'll read you just a few of the verses...

6At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice.
Proverbs 7:6 (NIV)

7I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment.
Proverbs 7:7 (NIV)

8He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house
Proverbs 7:8 (NIV)

9at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in.
Proverbs 7:9 (NIV)

10Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.
Proverbs 7:10 (NIV)

11(She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home;
Proverbs 7:11 (NIV)

12now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.)
Proverbs 7:12 (NIV)

13She took hold of him and kissed him...
Proverbs 7:13a (NIV)

I remember wondering why God would warn me about such things. That was the furtherest thing from my mind! I was committed to the ministry God had called me too and had my sights set on a Godly young lady at my church named Debbie.

That evening my friend and I went to this ladies apartment to have dinner. After dinner, she and her niece asked us to stay and watch a movie. All of a sudden I remembered the Scripture I had read that morning. I felt very uneasy and let them know I enjoyed the meal, but had some school work I needed to work on, and I left!

Two or three days later, I saw this lady at the apartment mailboxes. She told me she needed to tell me something. She said, "You know my niece who is staying with me? She is a very troubled teenager. She is very rebellious! I know you're in the ministry so I wanted to let you know, she has intentions towards you that are not good. Be careful around her."

I went back to my apartment and thanked God for His Word and for allowing the Holy Spirit to use the Word as a sword against Satan's evil schemes!

Weapon: Prayer

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)

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request! There's never an occasion where prayer is not appropriate!! And what does it mean to pray in the Spirit?
I believe it means that we must depend on God's Holy Spirit to direct our prayers. Only the Spirit really knows what and how we should pray in any given situation. We must depend on Him!!

26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
Romans 8:26 (NIV)

27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
Romans 8:27 (NIV)

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Sometimes we don't even know what to pray or how to pray, but the Holy Spirit knows. He knows the right words say, and He knows the right things to pray. It's ok to admit when you don't even know what to pray, but you know you must pray! Fall on your knees and let the Holy Spirit do the rest!!

It's okay to just hit your knees, lift your hands and say nothing but, "God I need you to take this one!! My strength is gone and I don't know what to say, so I'm going to let your Spirit intercede on my behalf!!

Does prayer really make a difference in our life?

You better believe it!!
I started today's sermon with the sad news of my friend who has quit the ministry. Listen to these words published by E. M. Bounds back in 1929...

"Prayer governs conduct, and conduct makes character. Conduct is what we do; character is what we are. Conduct is the outward life. Character is the life unseen, hidden within, yet evidenced by that which is seen…Conduct is the offspring of character.

Prayer helps to establish character and fashion conduct, and both for their successful continuance depend on prayer. In fact, without prayer, no such supernatural change in moral character, can ever be effected.

For the change from badness to goodness is not wrought 'by works of righteousness which we have done,' but according to God's mercy, which saves us 'by the washing of regeneration.'

And this marvelous change is brought to pass through earnest, persistent, faithful prayer. Any alleged form of Christianity which does not effect this change in the hearts of men is a delusion and a snare!"

In spiritual warfare, prayer is a vital weapon. Without it, you will not stand! In fact God's Word tells us this...

17pray continually;
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV)

Paul concludes his letter to the church at Ephesus with these words...

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)