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No afternoon athletic contest here!

Rarely do I consider each waking breath as a "life or death" moment, yet for some reason, there are days when I feel ever so grateful and aware of each breath, each rhythmic thump of my heart, and each wisp of air as it gently passes through my hair.  Perhaps we get too caught up in life at times to even realize the type of fight we are really in.  In the moments we take to actually pause long enough to look around, we often discover we are in the fight of our life!

10-12 God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.  (Ephesians 6:10-12 The Message)

It is a good thing we are given well-made weapons of the best materials, isn't it?  Yet, a weapon in a locked cabinet is of little use!  Paul reminds us of the need to "put on" all we are given - not just parts and pieces, selectively chosen as the "attire" we WANT to put on.  To be truthful, there are days when I don't want to be in shoes (no, I am not admitting to be a redneck!).  I just want to walk around barefoot - comfortable, not bound up in shoe leather. toes are a whole lot more likely to get stubbed!

I may not WANT to wear the shoes, but they actually protect me in ways I might not fully appreciate.  At work, for example, I wear them to keep me from getting unwanted germs on my body - from creeping into the dark spaces between my toes and under my nails.  As I walk on the street, I wear them to keep my feet from frying to a crisp in the hot Arizona sun!  The shoes serve a very worthwhile purpose - different from circumstance to circumstance, but a significant purpose nonetheless.

Paul says it very well - this is no afternoon athletic contest!  For most of us, this escapes us because we no longer engage in those Sunday afternoon football skirmishes on the family lawn, or a leisurely game of stick ball.  An afternoon athletic contest is not really a "contest", but a time of "playing around" with being an "athlete".  This walk with Christ is not a leisurely thing!  It is a fight to the death!  Someone is after our hides and it is a pretty devious enemy!  If he has skin in this game, isn't it time for us to put as much skin in the game!

We don't go up against our enemy unprepared.  We have been given the best of all weapons - the Word of God holding us strong, the righteousness of Christ guarding our hearts, the peace of Christ guiding each step we take, faith grounded in assurance of the protective power of our God at our fingertips, the blood of Christ covering and making our minds strong.  Above all, we have the sword of the Spirit - the Word of God.  All in all - no one piece stands alone - no one piece is to be left off.  

We can be all "clad" in armor and have no weapon to launch an attack of our own!  At best, without a weapon in our hands, we can only stand against the attack for so long!  This is why we need the Word in our hand - the Spirit of God using it to defend us and to divide truth from lie.  

So, as much as we might want to take shortcuts in life, maybe we need to be consistent with the application of what we have been given for our defense more than we need to take the shortcut!  We are in the fight of our lives.  This is no afternoon athletic contest!  We need the real deal!  I don't want an unprotected heart, or an easily influenced mind!  You don't either!  So, gird up!  The battle's on!


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