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The Battle is On!

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. The moments don't pass me by unnoticed - keenly aware of the people surrounding me, the challenges ahead of each of them, and the enjoyment we find in just being together. Perhaps we get too caught up in life at times to even realize the type of fight we all are really in with each new step we take. In the specific moments we take to actually pause long enough to look around, we often discover we are in the fight of our lifetime - not alone in this fight, because others are right there, dukes raised, readying themselves for their own fights!

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)

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 to the one gazing upon it from the outside! We are reminded 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, much less binding or confining clothing. I just want to walk around barefoot - comfortable, not bound up inside shoe leather, toes free to just luxuriate in the open air. It may not have occurred to you yet, but my toes are a whole lot more likely to get stubbed in some situations when they are not properly attired! While walking around my home barefooted may be okay, doing so around the hospital where I work is not.

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, setting me up for disease. As I walk on the street, I wear them to keep my feet from frying to a crisp on asphalt made unbearably hot in the blazing Arizona sun! The shoes serve a very worthwhile purpose - different from circumstance to circumstance, but a significant purpose nonetheless. We cannot simply look upon what God has given to us to make us strong and see that it only serves ONE purpose - it is likely that what we are given to keep us strong serves varied purposes depending upon the fight we are in.

This is no afternoon athletic contest! Did you catch that in our passage today? 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 where it was us against them, may the best teamplayers win. An afternoon athletic contest is not really a true "contest", but a time of "playing around" with being an "athlete" - a time to 'fight hard', but it isn't for the Super Bowl trophy! This walk with Christ is not a leisurely thing! It is a fight to the death! Someone is after our peace and it is a pretty devious enemy who fights to take it away from us! 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 if we ever expect to win. We have been given the best of all weapons - the Word of God making us strong, the righteousness of Christ guarding our hearts so we remain strong, the peace of Christ guiding each step we take so our faith is built up with each step, faith firmly grounded in assurance of the protective power of our God at our fingertips, and the blood of Christ covering our missteps, making our minds and hearts 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 hands - the Spirit of God using it to defend us and to divide truth from lie in our minds and hearts. 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 lifetimes, perhaps without even recognizing it. This is no afternoon athletic contest! We need the real deal when it comes to being equipped and ready for the battle ahead! I don't want an unprotected heart, or an easily influenced mind! You don't either! So, gird up! The battle's on! Just sayin!

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