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Contributed By:
David Tack
 
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THE 40 MARTYRS

"History knows them as the forty martyrs of Sebaste. They were soldiers in the famed Twelfth Legion of Rome’s imperial army, around A.D. 320. One day the captain informed his troops that Emperor Licinius had sent down an edict commanding all soldiers to offer a sacrifice to his pagan god. Forty of the soldiers were followers of Christ, and they refused. 'You can have our armor and even our bodies, but our hearts' allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ,' they said.

"The emperor decided to make an example of the soldiers, so in the middle of winter he marched them onto a frozen lake and stripped them of their clothes. 'Renounce your God and you will be spared from death,' he told them. Not one man came forward. So he left them there, huddled together to contemplate his offer. Throughout the night the man stayed together, singing their song of victory: Forty Martyrs for Christ. When morning came, thirty-nine of the men had frozen to death. The one survivor finally relented and crawled to safety, recanting his confession of faith in order to live. The officer in charge that night had been so moved by the scene that during his watch he’d come to Jesus, so he broke rank and walked out onto the ice. Stripping his clothes he openly confessed his faith in Christ. The furious emperor demanded that he renounce Jesus, but he refused. When the ordeal was over, the Roman soldiers carried forty frozen men off of the ice."

(Ref: Lahaye, Tim, Jerry B. Jenkins and Frank M. Martin ed., Embracing Eternity, Living Each Day With a Heart Toward Heaven: The Persecuted, Matthew 5:10- February 15. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2004.)

 
Contributed By:
Alan Affleck
 
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Any armour, including the Armour of God is useless without a sword - for the enemy can keep attacking until the armour gives way - how important then is it to be acquaint with the Sword of the Spirit.

 
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Timothy Peck
 
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For many people today the spiritual journey is filled with crushing burdens. I think of the character Rodrigo from the 1986 academy award winning movie The Mission. Rodrigo, played by Robert DeNiro, portrays a slave trader who kills his brother in a fit of rage. He’s filled with such terrible remorse and guilt that, to pay penance and get rid of his guilt he carries his armor through the jungle as a symbol of the crushing burden of his guilt.

Are you burdened like Rodrigo in your spiritual journey today? If so, I’ve got good news that you can lighten your load. It’s likely that many of us are carrying burdens today that don’t belong on the journey, burdens like the armor that Rodrigo was carrying on his journey. Today we’re going to look at how to lighten our load of four specific burdens that crush us in our spiritual journey.

 
Contributed By:
William Yates
 
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Japanese sword illustration: It is the Japanese who have created the best swords in the world. To create these fine weapons, ancient Japanese sword makers had to create a sword that was hard enough to retain a sharp edge, but at the same time soft enough not to be brittle. Sword makers who made swords by making the steel hard found they could preserve a sharp edge. Such swords, however, were often so brittle that they would often break when they clashed in battle. Soft steel, however, was found to be not as brittle, but would easily dull and be unable to slice through armor. Japanese sword makers, therefore had to forge a sword with steel hard enough to retain a sharp edge, but at the same time pliable enough not to break in battle.

What Japanese sword makers learned to do was to create a sword made of hard and soft steel. Multiple sheets of hard and soft steel are heated, folded and pummeled together over and over again. Japanese swords go through a lengthy forging process until they have up to 33,000 paper-thin laminations of hard and soft metal.

Each of these layers is one hundred thousandth of an inch thick. This is all done to a very precise recipe of temperature treatment. The end result is a finely crafted weapon with extreme pliability and a blade that will retain a finely honed edge.

Just as Japanese sword makers repeatedly hammer together layers of metal to produce a sword that will be strong enough to withstand breaking, so God allows trials to hammer metal into the lives of His children. Just a sword made of hard metal will easily break in battle, so the belie...

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Contributed By:
Tony Miano
 
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In the spring of 1940, war between England and Germany was beginning to wage in the Atlantic. The allied fleets of America and England were still abiding by a disarmament treaty that limited the size of warships. But the Germans were building ships of gigantic proportions. One such ship, the largest ever built up to that time, was the German battleship Bismarck.

The Bismarck displaced 42,800 tons making it 22% larger than the most powerful ships of the allied fleets. It had eight 15” guns and some 80 smaller guns, most of which were antiaircraft. It could reach speeds of 31 knots. Its armor was so thick that no existing British torpedo could penetrate its hull. If the British did not hunt down the great battleship, she had the potential to single-handedly destroy the British fleet at the loss of countless lives.

On May 21st, of 1940, two Spitfire reconnaissance planes stumbled upon the great warship as they searched a Norwegian fiord. Because of poor weather and other problems, it was several days before the British would have a crack at sinking the Bismarck.

With some of the oldest biplanes still in service, and torpedoes that were, for all intents and purposes, obsolete, the British Navy attacked the Bismarck. One of the planes, with both men wounded and 175 holes in the plane from the Bismarck antiaircraft guns, made it back to the British aircraft carrier. Several of the other planes in the squadron were badly damaged.

The pilots reported with excitement that they were sure at least one of the torpedoes found its mark. The mighty Bismarck had taken a torpedo in the rudder. She was dead in the water, only able to maneuver in circles like a wounded fish. Once the British neutralized the battlewagon’s rudder, they had control of the entire ship. And on May 27th, the British navy converged on the Bismarck’s position and sunk her.

Hitler’s plan was to use the Bismarck to create a wake of destruction across the Atlantic, to bring the European fleets to their knees in submission and humiliation. Had the rudder not been damaged, it would have steered the great ship into battle after lopsided battle, destroying everything in its path.

 
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K. Edward "Ed" Skidmore
 
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"I am your shield" Genesis 15:8-16

This was exactly what Abram needed to hear. He KNEW what a Shield was. Remember that Abram had just returned from battle. He probably owed his own life to the strength of his Shield.
The shield is what absorbs the shock of the spear and sword. It repels even flaming arrows. Abram understood this better than we do … but we use all kinds of Shields in our lives today:

• You probably have a Shield on your computer that protects your hard drive from computer viruses that could contaminate it. On my computer the symbol for the virus protection is in the shape of a Shield.
• Antibacterial soap and cleaning products act as a Shield against germs.
• Sunscreen is a Shield against harmful ultraviolet rays.
• The bulletproof vest worn by law enforcement is a type of Shield
Imagine yourself as a Soldier about to go into battle. You know you may face machine guns and rocket-fire and bombs. Considering the kind of weapons Soldiers face today, God might say, "I am your armored HumVee and your Kevlar vest."

 
Contributed By:
Clark Tanner
 
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In the mid 1800’s Francis Thompson was in the throes of battle with truth. Ravished by alcohol and drug abuse, He had begun to sense the relentless pursuit of the Holy Spirit, and the harder he ran, the more he felt the hot breath (so to speak) of what he called “The Hound of Heaven” on his heels. He found there was no speed fast enough to outrun God; no place to hide from God; no safe haven, no place of rest, no armor or weapon that would serve to help him against the One he was striving so desperately to avoid.

Here are just a couple of short excerpts from his poem, “The Hound of Heaven”

“So my pursuer persisted; never rushed or agitated, always steady,
constantly in control. And, continually I heard the accompanying Voice that
spoke above the sound of the footfalls, now saying, ‘There is nothing which will hide
you...you who will not hide Me in your heart’.”

Then, later:

“The chase continues, the Pursuer coming closer to the one pursued;
never rushed or agitated, constantly in control. And, always
the Voice - if anything, faster than the Feet - ‘Listen! Nothing
will ever bring contentment to you; you who resist contenting Me’.”

Finally, at the end of his poem, having given up and surrendered to the One who would not let him get away, he says:

“Now the One who was always pursuing from behind is alongside.
The chase is ended. I sense a darkness. Is it danger?
No, it is rather the shadow of His hand of affection reaching out to me. And, this
One who has chased so relentlessly after me says, ‘You who were so foolish, so blind to
the truth, so utterly weak; I am the One whom you have always sought in all of
your furious searches for security, well-being, and wholeness.
You find all you want and need when you walk with Me’.”

 
Contributed By:
Rodney Buchanan
 
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Sooner or later everyone reads or hears about Cervantes’ story of Don Quixote. Cervantes is thrown in prison in Seville. Finding himself in the middle of a band of cutthroats he tries to divert them by telling them his story of Don Quixote, the Man of La Mancha. In the story, Quixote pictures himself as a chivalrous knight. He goes forth to right all the wrongs of the world and take it by storm, but the Don is a man who lives in a world of impossible dreams. His armor is shabby and his horse is sagging. He rides for his fair lady whom he calls Dulcinea — “Sweetness.” But Dulcinea is far form a fair lady. She is a prostitute in a country tavern. She assures him that she is “the most casual bride of the murderous scum of the earth.” Her real name is Aldonza. She resents Quixote’s intrusion in her life and screams at him saying she is no kind of lady. But the Don persists, “And still thou art my lady.” He says that he sees heaven when he sees her, to which she replies that all she can see is a dream covered with rusty tin. Soon Don Quixote’s family tries to make him face reality. They oblige him to see the world as it is by shocking him into reality. As they begin to succeed, his health and his spirit begin to break, and he is at the point of giving up his impossible dream. But just then Aldonza comes into his room. She looks at him with grateful eyes and says, “You lo...

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Contributed By:
John Tung
 
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“In ancient history, tanning was considered a “smelly” trade and relegated to the outskirts of town, amongst the poor. Tanning by ancient methods is so foul smelling that tanneries are still isolated from those towns today where the old methods are used. The ancients used leather for waterskins, bags, harnesses, boats, armor, scabbards, boots and sandals.

Skins typically arrived at the tannery dried stiff and dirty with soil and gore. First, the ancient tanners would soak the skins in water to clean and soften them. Then they would pound and scour the skin to remove any remaining flesh and fat. Next, the tanner needed to remove the hair fibers from the skin. This was done by either soaking the skin in urine, painting it with an alkaline lime mixture, or simply letting the skin putrefy for several months then dipping it in a salt solution. After the hair fibers were loosened, the tanners scraped them off with a knife.

Once the hair was removed, the tanners would bate the material by pounding dung into the skin or soaking the skin in a solution of animal brains. Among the kinds of dung commonly used were that of dogs or pigeons. Sometimes the dung was mixed with water in a large vat, and the prepared skins were kneaded in the dung water until they became supple, but not too soft. The ancient tanner might use his bare feet to knead the skins in the dung water, and the kneading could last two or three hours. Depending on the type of dung used, the mixture might be rather acidic, causing irritation or minor burns during its prolonged contact with human skin.

It was this combination of animal feces mixed with decaying flesh that made ancient tanneries so smelly.
Children employed as dung gatherers were a common sight in ancient cities. Also common were ‘piss-pots’ located on street corners, where human urine could be collected for use in tanneries or by washerwomen.” And some of these exact same tanning methods are still used in third world countries to tan hides.
(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanner_%28occupation%29).

Do you get what I am saying? Folks, this was not a pretty trade to be in.

So, we know that tanners make some contribution to society. But people did not really like them or be near them. So, their contribution to society was unclear, undetermined.

Yet, what we can say about Simon the tanner is that (slide), “God Cares for Someone with an Undetermined Amount to Contribute to Society.”

 
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Sermon Central Staff
 
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ARMOR THAT HOLDS UP

I came across what I thought was a rather interesting story this week as I was preparing for this message. It was a story detailing a class action law suit aimed at a company called Second Chance Body Armor. Second Chance manufactures bullet proof vests for police officers and security personnel. Their products are used by hundreds of police departments throughout the country.

Apparently several policemen have been killed recently even though they were wearing the vest. Following some independent field tests on several of their vests it was discovered that there was a flaw with some of their products and it wouldn't actually stop a bullet that was fired at it.

So apparently some rather picky quality control people got all bent out of shape and decided to sue this manufacturer for misrepresenting the quality of its product. The lawsuit alleged that the company withheld information about known defects in its bulletproof vests and sold them anyway. But in all fairness you have to give the company its due -- Trying to maintain its image as being a caring and compassionate business the company responded by participating in a voluntary replacement program for anyone who had purchased one of the potentially lethal vests at no cost to the end user. (So if you have a vest and you haven't been shot yet, they are willing to give you another one.) Along with its replacement program the company has on its website an apology for any inconvenience that their faulty vests may have caused anyone.

Now I think that was rather nice of them, don't you? - To offer an apology for the inconveniences of a bulletproof vest that doesn't work? "Hey we're not too proud to admit when we're wrong. We just didn't realize at the time that you wanted every single vest to work. Sorry for the misunderstanding."

The attorney General spearheaded the class action lawsuit - which Second Chance lost. Upon receiving the terms of the settlement, it promptly filed for bankruptcy to avoid having to actually pay out any claims.

When you hear stories like that doesn't it bother you? When you're dealing with something as serious a bulletproof vests -- what margin of error is acceptable? Absolutely none, right? The thought of someone being careless or more concerned about money than safety when it comes to protecting the lives of police officers is unimaginable. When you got someone shooting at you, you want to know that the armor you're wearing is actually going to work, right?

Well today we are going to be looking at the armor of God -- and one thing we can be absolutely assured of -- this armor will hold up in the heat of battle.

(From a sermon by Tim Vamosi, Battle Lines - Part Two, 1/5/2011)

 
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