Summary: priority for 2007 is Paul’s stirring message to fight from now on the real battle

Priority for 2007

Happy New Year’s Eve! This coming New Year reminds us that there is always a new chapter to be written, with new opportunities and great possibilities. So as the church, how shall we move on, what are the new opportunities and possibilities?

In the Bible, we find Paul the apostle, speaking to this in our text this morning. What is the church to do with the future? He says this…

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

DVD Clip from LOTR 2nd disc chapter 29 – aragorn’s fiery speech as they face their final battle.

Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West

Can you see how similar the speech of Aragorn is to the text of the Bible. Both speak of standing your ground or to hold your ground. Both have scenes of warriors with armor, flashing the sword, with helmets on and shields for protection - the putting on of the full armor. Both speak not backing down against an enemy that would scare the daylights of brave soul! Both say…This day we fight!

1. From now one we FIGHT!: It is a call to battle! We’ve got a fight on our hands!

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God…you may be able to stand your ground…” (v.10-13)

The word “Finally” according to John Stott, ought to be rendered or translated as “henceforth” or for the remaining time. I looked up the Greek, and he is right on the money! Henceforth, we need to be strong in the face of a fearful enemy. Henceforth we fight… this day we fight! This word is connected to the preceding chapters of Ephesians which speaks of God’s purpose…

1. LOVE: In His love, He has chosen you to be in on what He’s doing -creating a new human society where there is no division or discrimination, where His richest blessings are poured out, to praise of His glorious grace(Eph.1).

2. GRACE: This accomplished by at a real cost – attested to by concrete historical events - Jesus’ death and resurrection power, grace is the word (Eph.2-3).

3. FAMILY: Therefore under his headship, there is on family, one people, one body (Eph.4)

4. UNITY: They are called to demonstrate that unity – using their diversity of gifts to strengthen each other, bearing with each other, forgiving each other, not more putdowns (Eph.4).

5. SPIRIT FILLED LIFE:They are to throw off their pre-conversion behavior and live a life of purity, filled with the Spirit (Eph.5)

6. SUBMISSION: This means the tough call of submission to each other in practical everyday life. (Eph.5-6)

After I told you this Paul says… this day we FIGHT!

If you think the Christian faith is a timid faith, you are of course, dead wrong. Faith is muscular. When we received Jesus as our God and Savior, God put into us His Spirit. Eph.1:19 speaks of “incomparable great power for us who believe.” God’s mighty strength, the power of His resurrection life is in us. I like the way Eugene Peterson’s Bible The Message says it – that our Spirit-enabled lives are not “timid grave tending” lives (Rom.8:15). We have been blessed with something that’s way stronger. Faith in God calls for a sword swinging armor laden, standing your ground clash with the enemy of our souls. Life in Christ is a deadly armed struggle against an unseen and scheming adversary. 1 Timothy 6.12 says “Fight the good fight of faith.” That is why Paul cries out “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” It is nothing but a stirring militaristic cry to battle - It is a fight to the finish! Put on the full armor… “you may be able to stand your ground, And after you have done everything to stand”. No turning back, don’t back down! Can you just picture it? It is the locker-room pep talk before the onslaught of evil in the way Aragorn spoke to his troops.

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