As we celebrate and give thanks, may we remember what is truly important, no matter how messy our lives may be, we can be thankful for God’s goodness ….
In Ephesians chapter 6, we see Paul talking about wearing the full armor of God so we may be able to withstand Satan’s schemes. As I was reading Ephesians recently, it struck me that I often heard people talking about the full armor of God, but not necessarily when it should be worn. I usually pictured David as he put on the armor to fight Goliath, needing to put on the armor of God when going out “into the world” to defend against the evils it held.
As I looked at Ephesians chapters 5 and 6, I noticed the leading up to where Paul talks about wearing the full armor of God he is talking about something very important: families!
Ephesians 5:22-33 talks of how husbands and wives should treat one another. Paul begins chapter 6 continuing the thought of family with children obeying their parents and fathers not provoking their children. Paul then goes into the workplace (it is translated as slaves and master which has a bad connotation in U.S. culture and other nations, and could refer to employers and employees, supervises and workers, etc). It is after that where Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God!
If Satan is going to attack, where is the best place? In our closest relationships. That is usually when we have our “guard down” because we are with people we trust and are comfortable. That makes the family and our workplace easy targets. Maybe that is why many “christians” get divorced or their families “fall apart”. They are not wearing the full armor of God at home. It gets heavy, it can be hard and we need a place to relax.
Another place I would add to this is in the church. We think that Satan cannot enter the church because it is “holy”. The truth is that we have all sinned and have yielded to Satan’s temptations and so as we, yes that’s you and I, enter the church, we bring that sinful nature with us.
May we remember to wear the full armor of God in our homes, in our workplace, in our churches and out in the world.
Finally, be strong in the Lord, where ever you may be.
It seems so often that we segment Scripture into nice little sound bytes or groups of verses when in reality, most Scripture is much more than that. Sometimes I wonder if assigning chapters and verses did more harm then good when it comes to reading the Bible.
Most of the New Testament was written as a letter to individuals or churches and yet we so often read portions of the letter based on chapters instead of the entire letter. When was the last time someone sent you a letter and you only read a portion of it, then picked it up the next day and read another portion? Seems kind of “disjointed”, doesn’t it? Yet that is how we are often encouraged to read the Bible, a chapter at a time.
May I encourage you, especially as you read through the letters in the New Testament, to not read by chapter or verse, but as a letter you have received from a good friend, or confidant. You may find you understand it a little more than just reading portions at a time.
In this series, we’ve already looked at a couple reasons why churches decline:
There is a positive side to the decline of churches as the article notes, “The drop in membership is pushing the churches to do more direct outreach. It starts in the surrounding streets, …..“. As membership declines, they need to go out and seek more people to join the church. They begin to have a greater outward focus. Sadly, the focus become getting “giving units” to meet expenses and not people committed to living for Jesus.
I find it interesting tha the article says, “We do know the neighborhoods are very interested in preserving all of the churches in their neighborhoods,” ….. “It makes a very definite difference in the neighborhood when they disappear. It makes for an empty shell.” It seems that people see the need for churches, maybe God, in their communities, but they are not a part of the faith community. Again, could this be the result of nostalgia in people, wanting to hold on to memories of what once was in their lives?
The first part of this final quote from the article I’m going to share is true, but has a twist at then end.
“The problems of these downtown churches are in such a state that they are not going to be able to solve them by themselves,” she said. “I think the city needs to be engaged too.”
Yes, the churches will not be able to solve the problems by themselves, they’ll need God and to focus on Him. But that’s if you look at the spiritual aspect of the church and their need.
The article and so many others look at the material side of the church. How to save the building, how to pay the bills. The main reason for the decline in the churches the article talked about is the decline of the city itself as people move out. It is happening in cities across the United States. The government can help rehab the facilities, but they can’t help the heart of the church.
Are city churches declining in attendance because we’ve abandoned the cities themselves?
May we focus on God, not facilities and may we reach into the cities, not to save buildings, but to save people.