Summary: An ecumenical service at the Mill Pond festival
One Size Fits All
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have. I remember as a kid riding in cars with no air bags, no seat belts, and metal dashboards. We rode in the back of pickups. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes we didn’t wear helmets. We drank water from the garden hose. We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into trees & bushes a few times, we figured out the problem. We would leave home in the morning and play all day. We played dodge ball and sometimes the ball would really hurt.
Now Americans are obsessed with survival. It’s almost maniacal how so many people fight and scratch for the right to kill their unborn children and sick grandparents and pass every conceivable law to keep them alive in-between. We’ve mandated seat-belts and bike helmets and banned lead-based paint. To guard our children’s fragile self-esteem, we’ve banned dodge-ball and picking teams and keeping score.
Now, I’m all for survival. But, as usual, we’ve taken an issue and run off the end of the earth with it. We’ve gotten just a bit carried away. On the other hand, the survival I want to talk about today, the survival that Paul talks about, is extremely important.
Paul talks in Ephesians about spiritual blessings, being one in Christ, Unity, the Christian household, Children & Parents, and Slaves & Masters. Then halfway through the 6th and final chapter, he says FINALLY. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His power.”
THIS STRENGTH COMES FROM THE LORD, NOT OURSELVES... Note that Paul says… "be strong IN THE LORD", "in the strength OF HIS POWER". What Paul is saying is there is "strength" and "power" available for the Christian beyond their own!
This strength comes from the whole armor of God. This is armor God supplies. This is armor we must “put on”. And we can’t put on just part of it. No, we must put on the “whole armor”. How effective would a football player be without his helmet or his shoulder pads? Every part is important if we are to be “strong in the Lord”.
Many people walk around every day unprotected. They don’t have the whole armor on. They’ve got the shoes and helmet but no breastplate. Or the belt and shield but no sword. Our battle against those evil forces mentioned in verse 12 make it absolutely necessary to be properly attired.
Have you ever seen those hats that say “one size fits all”? That’s the neat thing about God’s armor. It’s “one size fits all”. And think about this: if it doesn’t fit your life, then guess who needs to change?
The first piece of the armor Paul talks about is:
Belt of Truth Train people to spot counterfeit money. We should be so familiar with God’s truth that when we hear a lie we can spot it. Roman soldier’s belt was essential part of armor. Belt gathers armor together & secures sword to side. Secures long garments so they don’t interfere with fighting. Belt ties it all together.
Some would say, “Oh, truth doesn’t fit into my life, I don’t need that belt of truth. Telling the truth just hurts too much.” Fact is, truth might hurt a little, but lying will flat out kill you!
Breastplate of Righteousness
Sunrise was dawning when Los Angeles motorcycle police officer Bob Vernon saw a red pickup truck speed through a stop sign. This guy must be late to work, he thought to himself. He turned on his emergency lights and radioed that he was in pursuit. The pickup pulled over, and the officer approached. Meanwhile in the truck, the driver thought, The cops already know! He was scared. He rested his hand on the same gun he had used a few moments before to rob a twenty-four-hour market. The sack of stolen money was beside him on the seat. The officer said, Good morning, sir, may I see your…… He never finished the sentence. The driver shoved his gun toward the policeman’s chest and fired from just inches away.
The cop was knocked flat seven feet away. A few seconds later, to the shock of the criminal, the officer stood up, pulled his service revolver, and fired twice. The first bullet went through the open window and smashed the windshield. The second tore through the door and ripped into the driver’s left leg. "Don’t shoot! the thief screamed, throwing the gun and sack of money out the pickup window.
What saved the policeman’s life was dozens of layers of Kevlar, the super strong fabric used for bulletproof vests. Only three-eighths of an inch thick, Kevlar can stop bullets cold. A bulletproof vest can save your life.