Standing in the Armor of God (Ephesians 6)

sit-walk-stand

Sermon Series: Sit Walk Stand
Inspired by Watchman Nee‘s book Sit Walk Stand, a study of Ephesians

Message 3 of 3: Standing in the Armor of God
Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-18
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 6/2/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Click Here for more information on the Ephesians Reading Challenge
Read the entire book of Ephesians 3 times in 3 weeks

The main theme of Ephesians: Moving with Christ from death to life. Christianity is a movement, a journey of faith.

In his book, Sit, Walk, Stand, Watchman Nee divides the book of Ephesians into three main sections.

  • Sit, chapters 1-3
    • Sitting with Christ, Resting in God, Receiving from God, our identity and being
  • Walk, chapters 4-6:9
    • Walking the Walk, Living a life in the Spirit in practical ways, movement of faith
  • Stand, chapter 6:10-24
  • Sit, Walk, Stand seems out of order. A baby learns to sit, then stand, then walk. Yet in the spiritual life, we sit so we can walk. We sit so we can stand.

Walking the Walk – Making an Impression

  • Life looks different because we’re followers of Jesus Christ
  • Our character is transformed, taking on the character of Christ, bearing the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
    • Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self- control
  • Our actions are transformed
    • generous in time talents treasure in serving others, forgiving folks and loving your enemies
  • We start taking our Baptismal Vows seriously
    • We renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of the world, repent of your sin
    • We accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, oppression in whatever forms they present themselves
    • We accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, put our whole trust in His grace, and promise to serve him as our Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to all people.
  • When you start walking the walk the Evil One is going to notice. Walking with Jesus, life becomes better and harder. We’re living a life of integrity plus all the normal trouble of life.
  • Life can feel like a battle.
    • Love is a Battlefield, song by Pat Benatar
    • God is Love. Walking in the love of Christ can feel like a battlefield.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.

  • We take on guilt and shame because we aren’t strong enough, we can’t handle it. It’s false guilt and shame. God knows we can’t handle it. Be strong in the Lord!

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

  • The Evil One wants us to trick us into thinking our battle is against blood and flesh, people vs. people. See people as people, not enemies.
  • The curtain is pulled back. We can see things now we couldn’t see before.

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

  • 3 types of standing- stand, withstand (take the hit), stand firm (push back)

Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

We sit with Christ so we can walk with Christ.
We sit with Christ so we can stand with Christ. 

God wants to strengthen you and protect you. 

Ephesians 6:10-11 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. (strength) Put on the whole armor of God (protection)

How we blow it-

  1. We put on our own armor instead of God’s.
    • financial security, connections, achievement, expertise, stiff upper lip, my big girl pants
  2. We put on some of God’s armor, but not all of it
  3. We put on someone else’s armor
    • Someone else’s prayers, faith, encounter with God’s word, salvation. You need your own.
    • It’s like David going out to fight Goliath, the giant. King Saul wants David to wear his royal armor, his human armor. It doesn’t fit, doesn’t work, weighs him down. David refuses and faces Goliath in God’s armor.
  4. We put on the Evil One’s armor. We choose the ways of the Evil One for my protection and weapons.
    1. The Evil One focuses on attacking because Jesus already brought victory. The armor of God is defensive, not offensive.

Ephesians 6:10-11 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God

Paul writes to the believers in Ephesus in Turkey from his prison in Rome. He uses the image of a Roman centurion because that’s what he can see.

armor of God centurion

Belt of Truth

  • Like Batman’s utility belt. Holds everything in place
  • The battle for what is real
  • Evil One’s Weapons- lies, falsehood, misinformation, miscommunication
  • God’s Weapons- integrity, honesty, we humbly take the high ground because Jesus is already victorious

Breastplate of Righteousness

  • Righteousness = Right Relationship with God and Others
  • The battle for your heart.
    • Who is on the throne of your heart
    • What are your primary motivations in all you do
  • The Evil One wants broken relationships. Anyone or anything on the throne of your heart other than Jesus. For your primary motivation to be a heart of war, looking at people and treating people as if they are not people. Go to war with flesh and blood.
  • God’s Weapons- Jesus on the throne of our heart. Our primary motivation is a heart of peace- looking at people and treating people as people.

2019 05 17 love neighbor Barbara Brown Taylor

Shoes for the Gospel of Peace

  • How and why we move
  • Battle for our Mission and Priorities
  • Weapons of the Evil One- Busy, Distracted, using our time talent and treasure for missions not of God
  • God’s weapons- bringing glory to God, building up others, making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We do this by making peace and offering the Good News of Christ’s peace

Shield of Faith

  • We hold on to faith like we hold on to a shield
  • The Evil One will throw everything at us in order to get us to give up- give up the mission, give up our heart, believe a lie instead of trusting God.
  • We claim who we are in Christ. We claim the promises of God. We hold on to faith and hope. We persevere. We endure.

Helmet of Salvation

  • Battle for your thoughts, your mind.
  • We ruminate- we replay situations over and over. This is not of God. Jesus take the wheel of my monkey brain!
  • Let the same mind be in me that was in Christ Jesus- Phillippians 2:5
  • The Evil One wants us distracted, discouraged, and despairing.
  • I know who I am in Christ- I am a child of God. I am beloved and blessed of God. I am made in the image of God and nothing can separate me from the love of God and my salvation in Jesus Christ.
  • I know it in my head and my heart. Salvation means wholeness and I am whole in Christ.

Sword of the Spirit

  • The Evil One wants us to use the weapons of the world
  • The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
  • We claim the Word of God and pray in the Spirit for ourselves and others.
  • It is always scripture and prayer. Always and forever.

This is why we always sit first. 

  • I need to sit in the presence of God. I need to sit with the word of God so I can walk, live this life so that it’s worthy of Jesus. So it overflows in love and good deeds.
  • I need to sit with the word and in prayer so I can stand when the Evil One takes notice because the Evil One will.
  • This is why we sit first. We receive when we rest- we receive our identity in Christ,  we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we receive God’s strength and power, we receive the Armor of God.

What would it be like if God’s people sit to receive, and then when we’re finished we live in such a way the Devil says, “Oh no, they’re up!” 

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Standing in the Armor of God © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Satisfying and Silencing: A Reflection and Prayer for Thanksgiving based on Psalm 65

silent sea psalm 65-7 b

Psalm 65:4b, 7 NRSV
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
Your holy temple…
You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.

When I first read Psalm 65, I was reminded of Thanksgiving. Verses 9-13 praise the bounty of God, the Lord of the Harvest, who provides water, flocks, and grain in abundance. This generous provision is a needed blessing for any community, but especially in a difficult environment like the desert.

When I reread the psalm, I was drawn to verse 7, especially the phrase “You silence… the tumult of the peoples.” Provision of food and water is a way God silences the desperate cries of deep need. It is worthy of thanks all on its own, yet there is more to praise. There is always more to praise. God goes deeper and further in satisfying and silencing because that’s God’s being, God’s desiring. God goes beyond “give us this day, our daily bread” to meet the needs of body and soul and community.

Praise is indeed due you, O God, for you…

  • answer prayer (vs. 2) so we are not left alone in the monkey brain, the incessant inner monologue of our questioning and worry.
  • forgive our sins (vs. 3) so we are not abandoned to the mayhem of twisted choices and broken relationships.
  • provide us a home in your family (vs. 4) so we are not overwhelmed by crushing waves of isolation. We so need the companionship and support of others, especially the wise and faithful.
  • deliver us, the deepest of need, so we are not left despairing and hopeless in the chaos of trying to save ourselves.

Prayer based on Psalm 65
Praise is due to you, Generous God,
We commit ourselves to you alone
For you answer prayer and welcome all who seek you
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence all competing and false voices
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

When sin and pain overwhelm us, you forgive and heal
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence the chaos and destruction
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

Bring us near. Raise a song in our hearts.
A shout of praise and thanksgiving in your sanctuary.
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence all apathy and skepticism
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

By awesome deeds, you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
You are the hope of all the ends of the earth
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence prejudice, suspicion, and hate
Silence the guns of war and the rhetoric of terror
Speak Lord, your servants are listening

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it
You provide the people with grain, Great God of Abundance
Raise up a shout and a song of joy across the whole world
Satisfy us with your goodness
Silence the cries of hunger and need
Silence the cries of injustice and despair
O Lord, open our lips, and our mouths will declare your praise.

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Satisfying and Silencing, reflection and prayer © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information on publishing this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: Glory to You, based on Isaiah 55.6-9

worship-jun-jamosmos

Worship by Jun Jamosmos

Growing in Resilience
Based on Isaiah 55
Bonus Reflection: Glory to You, based on Isaiah 55:6-9, NRSV

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Glory To You, O Lord Most High!
You await us with mercy
Mercy and abundant pardon
You are near
You are found

You send out your Word and it returns to you
Powerful
Effective
Creative
A harvest of salvation and goodness

You send out your Word and it fulfills your desire
Joy and Peace for us and all creation

Glory To You, O Lord Most High!
Your thoughts are higher
Your ways are higher
Above and beyond
Grace upon grace

You alone are worthy of
our seeking
our turning
our trust and devotion
our celebration and song

Glory to You, O Lord Most High!

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Glory to You © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

You Can Read the Bible: Three Approaches

South Sudan Bible Reading by Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons

South Sudan Bible Reading by Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons

I. You Can Read the Bible by Steve Harper
One of the biggest mistakes we have made with the Bible is leaving the impression that only scholars can correctly interpret it. Everything is made so layered, nuanced, and complex that many folks instantly feel they lack the “training” and “horsepower” to make it through all the mazes.

So, they either stop trying or they become passive and wait for the “experts” to tell them what’s “right.” But the fact is, the Bible is intended to be understandable! The original languages do contain levels of insight, but their essential meanings are accessible to us all.

Here is a way to make it so in your personal reading and in your conversations with others. Take a passage, read it, and ask:
(1) What is the big idea?
(2) Why is it important?
(3) Where does it presently connect with my life–or–why is it not a part of me?
(4) Should it be part of me? If so, how can I continue (or begin) to put it into practice?

Most Bible passages will “bear fruit” when these questions are applied to them, either in private or in a group. And when you add to your own inductive study the additional resources of concordances, dictionaries, maps, and commentaries, you will find the messages of scripture influencing your life day after day.

II. SOAP
The SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal is practiced by thousands of Christians. I first learned of it from Wayne Cordeiro, pastor New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, click here for the video on their website.

Here’s a brief summary of the process.
S = Scripture
Read the Bible passage for the day. Copy the verse which catches your attention word for word in your journal.

O = Observation
Write a brief description of what is going on in the passage you read.

A = Application
Write about how your life will be different today because of what you have read.
• Lessons to be learned
• Examples to be followed or avoided
• Promises to be claimed and enjoyed
• A character trait of God revealed

P = Prayer
Write out a prayer for yourself and others based on what you read today.

III. Lectio Divina explained by Whitney R. Simpson in his book Holy Listening with Breath, Body, and the Spirit
The words Lectio Divina are Latin for “holy reading.”

This ancient prayer practice includes the following steps:
lectio (“to read”)
meditatio (“to reflect”)
oratio (“to respond”)
and contemplatio (“to rest”).

Lectio Divina allows you to listen for God’s activity using scripture and to connect to God through the ancient Word while delving into a particular passage.

The practice of Lectio Divina focuses on formational reading of scripture, as opposed to informational reading. Formational reading invites the text to shape you, while informational reading invites you to understand the text. Though both types of reading can be useful on a spiritual journey, the art of Lectio Divina allows you to interact with God’s Word through meditating on a passage and listening for God’s leading.

My personal journey has been shaped by spending time in the Word using Lectio Divina. Through this practice, I have realized how scripture can speak to my life regardless of what I am facing. Lectio Divina has allowed me to see and hear God in new ways.

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So, let’s get reading. Here are three simple reading plans to get you started. Each will take you through the New Testament in one year. It’s especially helpful to start with the New Testament if you are new to Bible reading.

1. New Testament Reading Plan- Bible order
This plan will take you through the New Testament in the order in which it is printed in the Bible. Easy. Just read straight through.

2. New Testament Reading Plan- event order
This plan will take you through the New Testament in the order in which the events most likely happened. You’ll jump from chapter to chapter in different books in this plan. Is it scholarly perfect, no, but it is helpful for those of us who want a chronological approach to Jesus’ life and the lives of the first believers. (We aren’t getting caught in the perfectionism trap. If this sounds interesting, go for it.)

3. New Testament Reading Plan- mixed
This plan spreads the Gospel readings throughout the year with the other books mixed in between. Even though you skip around the New Testament in this plan, you will read a book at a time.

Click Here for more information on today’s featured image, South Sudan Bible Reading by Steve Evans

Prayer: For Yours Alone (Mark 16)

speak witness good news

Based on the short ending of the Gospel of Mark, The Voice Translation
Later, Jesus himself commissioned the disciples to take the sacred and eternal message of salvation far to the East and the West.

Jesus,
Your message is sacred
Holy, Set Apart, Treasured

Your message is eternal
Timeless, Lasting, a Firm Foundation

Your message is salvation
Deliverance, Wholeness, Grace

We bow before your commission to receive and bear your message into the world

Show us when to speak and give us the words
Never for our agenda, for yours alone

Show us what to do and give us the strength
Never for our achievement, for yours alone

Show others we are from you by your power at work through us
Never for our glory, for yours alone

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For Yours Alone © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use this prayer in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment to contact me directly for publishing and posting consideration.

Sermon Recording – We Need Wisdom (Psalm 19)


Message: We Need Wisdom
Scriptures: Psalm 19
Message 1 of 4 to accompany the study Earn, Save, Give by Rev. James A. Harnish. Offered 1/14/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

earn save give cover
1. How we relate to our money goes to the heart of our relationship with God

There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, the conversion of the mind, and the conversion of the purse. – Martin Luther

2. If you look for money to do what only God can do, money will fail you
Money cannot forgive your sins, bring you wholeness, nor save you
Money is not a Rock and a Refuge from the pain and trouble of this world
Money does not define you, nor make you valuable

3. Is money is good or evil?
Neither! Both!
Money is a powerful tool and gift of God. Like any gift, it can be twisted into something it was never meant to be: greed, envy, exploitation, materialism, hoarding… Like any gift, it can be received, nurtured, blessed, and multiplied for the greater good.

In the hands of [God’s] children, [money] is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked. . . . By it we may supply the place of a husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless; we may be a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain. It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death! – John Wesley, The Use of Money

So it’s not about money. It’s about being in right relationship with money.
It is about using God-given spiritual practices to manage God’s powerful gift of money faithfully. There is no reason to fear or avoid speaking about money.

4. Where do we start? Wisdom is more valuable than money
Think of the consequence of money without wisdom

What is Wisdom? Accumulating knowledge is being smart, educated, informed. It is good to seek the help of experts and best practices, but it is not enough. Wisdom goes beyond accumulating knowledge to the use of knowledge. Wisdom takes into account experience, best practices, but goes beyond to seek and apply timeless Biblical truth and Divine Insight. Wisdom reveals what to do with what you have and why you do it.

Psalm 19:1-6, gaining God’s wisdom via nature
God reaches out to everyone, speaking to us. God wants to be in relationship with us through Jesus Christ, to lead us and guide us and give us wisdom. Yes, we consult experts. Yes, we use our God-given brains. Yes, we seek God’s will and wisdom.

Psalm 19:7-11, gaining God’s wisdom through God’s Word

God’s wisdom is

  • perfect
  • sure and reliable
  • right and correct
  • clear and clarifying
  • pure
  • true and sound
  • more to be desired than gold
  • sweeter than honey

The wisdom that God’s Word provides

  • revives the soul
  • makes us wise if we have an open mind and a teachable spirit
  • causes our hearts to rejoice and be satisfied
  • enlightens, opens our understanding and perspective
  • brings answers, perspective, clarity
  • results in a healthy fear, awe, and holy reverence for God
  • results in appropriate humility before God
  • sustains and endures
  • warns, correcting us that we may live a rewarding life

In short, God’s wisdom puts us in right relationship with God, with others, with ourselves, with the earth, and with money. It’s why we can trust it, seek it, and surrender to it.

5. Ask God for Wisdom, that you may be in right relationship with money.
Do you pray and thank God for “daily bread,” trusting God as the source of your provision and asking God to provide? Do you seek God’s will when making a purchase or an investment or making an offering or for the courage to tithe?

Consider Solomon, a young man about to follow his father David in becoming king. God comes to him in a dream. “Ask what I should give you.” What would you ask for? Long life, love, wealth, power, peace, revenge, victory over your enemies…

Solomon asks for this
Give your servant, therefore, an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people? (1 Kings 3:9)

Notice Solomon’s love and respect for God. He was a king yet humble. He refers to himself as God’s servant. Notice Solomon’s love of others. He understands his call as a leader is beyond his strength, skill, intelligence, and resources. He understands his responsibilities to the greater good.

God answers his prayer and God will answer you. Ask God for Wisdom, that you may be in right relationship with money.

Prayer
Mighty God, grant me wisdom
Let the words of my mouth be acceptable to you
Let my every desire be acceptable to you
Let the resting place of my heart be acceptable to you
Open me to growth and guidance
Purify my reverence and awe for you
Sustain me and satisfy me
May the revival and sanctifying of my soul bring you delight and glory
I trust your Holy Word and Holy Wisdom to put me in right relationship with all things
With money, myself, my motivations, with others, with you
You alone are my Rock and my Redeemer

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Advent and Christmas Bible Reading Plans

Live Hope, Give Hope: A Plan to Share the Goodness of Jesus at Christmas
Readings from Isaiah, Matthew, Luke, John, and Psalms
Also includes a sentence prayer and action prompts to Help, Offer, Pray, or Encourage
December 1-31, 6 days per week

Comfort and Joy: A Simple Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Readings from Matthew, Luke and Johnbible luke 2
Some of the readings are even repeated so you can go slow and go deep. Also includes a sentence prayer for each reading.
December 1-31, 5 days per week

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Advent Bible Readings from Old Testament to New
Old and New Testament Readings
December 1-25, everyday
This reading plan highlights the Old Testament names and prophesies concerning the Messiah which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

The Advent Door Reading Plan
Based on Jan Richardson’s book Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas . Her book is structured in the style of a classic Advent calendar, with 25 scripture reflections, each with an original piece of art. This is a true Advent reading plan, with the first 18 readings focusing on the repentance and the 2nd coming of Christ.

Countdown to Christmas
Old and New Testament Readings
December 1-25, everyday