Sermons

Summary: Security systems. Car alarms. But are you still vulnerable? Defenseless? Feel like you are under attack? Are you dressed for battle? Let's learn the "Art of War!"

The Art of War

Pt. 3 - Warfare Wardrobe 1

I. Introduction

On May 9, 1864, at the site of the Spotsylvania Courthouse, General Sedgwick was personally overseeing the placement of a battery directly to the rear of his entrenched 14th New Jersey while enjoying a conversation with his young chief-of-staff, and friend, General Martin T. McMahon. They were approximately 1,000 yards from the Confederate lines, a distance that was considered relatively safe given the firearms of the day. However, throughout the two men’s conversation, they were interrupted several times from stray bullets fired from Rebel sharpshooters. What happened next left a profound mark on the life of the young general, and he recorded the events in his log.

"A man who had been separated from his regiment passed directly in front of the general, and at the same moment a sharp-shooter’s bullet passed with a long shrill whistle very close, and the soldier, who was then just in front of the general, dodged to the ground. The general touched him gently with his foot, and said, “Why, my man, I am ashamed of you, dodging that way,” and repeated the remark, “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” The man rose and saluted and said good-naturedly, “General, I dodged a shell once, and if I hadn’t, it would have taken my head off. I believe in dodging.” The general laughed and replied, “All right, my man, go to your place.” For a third time the same shrill whistle, closing with a dull, heavy stroke, interrupted our talk; as I was about to resume, the general’s face slowly turned toward me, the blood sputtering from his left cheek under the eye in a steady stream. He fell in my direction."

The 56-year old corps commander died on the scene making him the highest ranking Union casualty of the Civil War. General Sedgwick’s final words are the epitome of irony.

If General Sedgwick had treated his enemies with more respect, he probably would not have died that day. But he got careless and made assumptions about his enemies.

We are at war! We have a real enemy and we must stay alert and on guard. As much time as we spend for personal protection. Car alarms. House alarms. Computer alarms. Perimeter fences. Prickly shrubs under the windows. Deadbolts. Door chains. Sirens. Motion detectors. Cameras to see who has been on our porch and for all this effort and expense given to protect and fortify our homes we seem to have forgotten that there is a war that is taking place in the unseen, unfilmable realm and we seem to give little to no effort to secure our hearts. Elaborate systems in place to lock up our car and our valuables but no thought given to locking down our spirit.

Paul affirms that we are in a war. However, he goes one step further and reminds us that we have a wardrobe for war. I think Paul understood what I see . . . (SLIDE 2) Too many of us are fighting naked! We are promised a uniform that will help us be victorious but we march out uncovered, unclothed, and vulnerable. We will dress for success at work and yet fail to consider what we are wearing in the war that is waging around us. It is those who know about the armor that can say with assurance and confidence that no weapon formed against me shall prosper. The reason some of us cringe when we hear that promise spoken is because as we look around we see weapons formed against us not only prospering but prevailing. I submit to you that because we don't know how to utilize the defense God has provided and our own lack of proficiency at using the armor results in wounds, pain, and injury because we are needlessly exposed! In very real terms, we are suffering self inflicted injuries that could be avoided if we would gear up!

Paul steps in and helps us by taking the time to outline and describe the uniform or the wardrobe of war that is necessary for us to wear if we are going to prevail!

Ephesians 6:10-18 (Message)

And that about wraps it up. 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. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

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