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Just Thinking.........Again

God's Armor in a World sufffering from Covid-19

Saturday, March 28, 2020
This armor is sufficient for the day; times of virus, panic and uncertainty.
.......by Alyce-Kay Ruckelshaus

See more from Alyce at: http://thresholdofhineni.com/


Using the Armor or God

Our Response Against Corona Virus


It is so easy to be drawn into the mayhem of panic & fear.  While we are told to 'fear not' we do have an active response in these times.  Those in Christ are called to put on God's armor.  It is a great gift, given to us for any time, but especially for trying seasons like these.

Ephesians 6:10-18

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.


14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.  (NKJV)



The first piece of the armor the Apostle Paul talks about is the truth with which we "gird our loins."  When I think about this, I'm reminded that our "loins" are a very vulnerable part of our body, but they also represent our ability to reproduce.  So here are a few things to think about with regard to truth and any crisis.  


This part of the armor is good to pay attention to before anything else because, if we don't have the truth, we may fight the wrong enemy.  Our enemy is always spiritual forces of darkness, ?not ? people.  This is something we often lose sight of.  When we do, we just make a lot of messes and we're ineffective.  It's important to understand that these  battles are fought in the Heavenlies and we have the ?privilege ? of being involved through  prayer, through being prolific bearers of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23), and  by making ourselves prepared and available to give a reason for the hope that's within us.  While the enemy of our souls means for these battles to destroy us and those around us, God is able to use them as a doorway into salvation.    


Another area of truth to be concerned with is getting ?facts ? about the physical side of the battle.  In this case, COVID-19.  There are a lot of rumors flying around, and it's easy to get sidetracked by those, but we can be best used by God if we seek out the facts and determine how we can be effective in helping others, based on reality, rather than on fantasy.  We need to be careful not to use crises to push our own agendas.  Pray and ask God to give discernment and wisdom.


Another area of truth to be concerned with is getting ?facts ? about the physical side of the battle.  In this case, COVID-19.  There are a lot of rumors flying around, and it's easy to get sidetracked by those, but we can be best used by God if we seek out the facts and determine how we can be effective in helping others, based on reality, rather than on fantasy.  We need to be careful not to use crises to push our own agendas.  Pray and ask God to give discernment and wisdom.


Breastplate of Righteousness

Our first response naturally is to take care of ourselves and our families (unless we're just ignoring it).  And that's probably good.  It's that whole thing about putting on your own oxygen mask before you help someone else.  But perhaps we shouldn't stop there.  Jesus said that the greatest commandments are to love God and love others.  How do we apply this greatest form of righteous behavior to coronavirus (or other crises)?


My personal take on this would be to first be available and ready to help any for whom God uses the situation as a doorway to salvation.  A wonderful example of this is something an "uncle" in China has done -- he's given out cartoon-type books about Jesus.  One of my coworkers discovered this when her student told her how he had learned about and come to love Jesus -- through that book.  The kids who are quarantined were super bored, being stuck in their apartments, and this boy read the book several times.  He was excited to tell his teacher about this wonderful Jesus that he had met.  


Others will be scared and will need to know about the peace they can have in difficult times through Jesus.  


We can go beyond that and look for ways to be "Jesus with skin on."  What are the needs around us?  Does everyone have food and other supplies?  Can we help someone prepare?  Do we know anyone who can't afford what they need to meet the challenge?  Are there those who didn't prepare, who we can help?  Does our church have a plan for continuing worship in a quarantine and for helping sick members and others?  


There may be people who are sick who need our ministrations.  If God calls you to do this, are you willing?  


Here are some examples of what the Church in China, and specifically Wuhan, has been doing.      

"As many N95 masks lie idle in the Red Cross warehouse or get siphoned off by Wuhan local officials, Preacher Luo and his team managed to deliver 400 N95 masks, 1000 gloves and 1000 protective goggles to the Wuhan Central Hospital, the workplace of the deceased whistleblower Dr Li Wenliang."  


"A Christian engineer, whose own family had been affected by the outbreak, used his WeChat public account to post calls for assistance and coordinate information to help them find medication and a hospital bed."  


PS -  It's often pointed out that there was no armor piece for the back of a Roman soldier (the armor Paul was staring at when he wrote his description of the Armor of God).  He was expected never to turn his back and retreat.  This could mean a couple things for us.  First, we have no need to pull back.  We know we're on the winning side.  Keep pressing forward.  And perhaps we can take this to also mean that we shouldn't turn our back on those who need our help.


Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

I hope you aren't growing tired of me saying to be prepared to explain your hope to others.  Spiritual needs are most noticeable in times of crisis, whatever they are.  It's absolutely necessary that we not only have hope and peace, but also know how to share it.  Here are some things you can do to shine up your shoes (of the Gospel):  

  • Think through and be prepared to share your own testimony: How you came to know God and how that's changed your life.  
  • Understand how to lead someone to salvation.  


There are many ways to do this.  Here's one:  ?https://www.jackhayford.org/teaching/articles/how-do-i-lead-others-to-christ/  


There are also people who are already believers -- some strong in their faith and others weak -- who will need encouragement in finding their footing.  Crises tend to affect different people in different ways.  We've already mentioned that this can be a spiritual attack and that's often a matter of the enemy attacking someone's faith.  Read the story of Aaron and Hur in Exodus 17:8-13.  Moses was a man of great faith, but he needed someone to hold up his arms.  We often need to hold up the arms of our brothers and sisters.    


Shield of Faith

The shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit are my favorite pieces of armor.  I sometimes have to work to not neglect the others in favor of these two.  Paul says that we use the shield of faith to extinguish the flaming arrows of the enemy.  Remember that this enemy is not other people.  ("We wrestle not against flesh and blood.")  It's not even the crisis, such as coronavirus, that we're engaged in at the moment.  The enemy of our souls is Satan himself and his powers of darkness.  We need  our shield of faith (and our entire armor!) to defend ourselves against him.  


One of the arrows he most often shoots at us is Fear.  If he can get us to be afraid, to look down at the waves, he knows we'll sink.  (See Matthew 14:22-33) The key to extinguishing fear is faith ... and fear is often a sign that we need to build our faith or engage the faith we have.    


The shield is given to us, not just for solitary use, but also for use as a team.  The Romans had a formation called the ?testudo ? or ?tortoise ? formation.  If you've watched ?Return of the King ? in the? Lord of the Rings ? series, you've seen this.  A group of soldiers walks close together, some with their shields held in front, others with their shields above them, forming a protective and nearly impenetrable shell.  In the same way, our faith is strengthened and made more effective when we use it in conjunction with others.  Some of the most effective prayers are offered "where two or three are gathered".  


Faith is something that we can intentionally grow in.  For more about this, see my Memorial Stones video series (trust & obey):  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGU4dL4j88E&list=PL-qJGkcLR7n4HFsy-un6OZZKT_m vu-4Zz

Helmet of Salvation

The brain is the control center, so the helmet has to be incredibly important.  Salvation is the ultimate protection.  Without salvation, the rest of our armor is rendered useless.  All the rest stems from our salvation.  It's much more than being "saved" though.  It's grasping hold of eternal life, which Jesus said is here and now:  Knowing God.  (See John 17:3) Without knowing God and walking with Him, we miss out on the power and beauty of His fellowship.  Without that intimate relationship with Him, we miss the point, and the hope we offer is nearly impotent in ourselves.  


An interesting aspect of our salvation is that we ourselves are weapons.  In Romans 6:13, Paul warns us not to offer ourselves to sin as instruments of evil, but to offer ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness.  The word "instruments" is also translated "weapons."  Each thing we do is a choice, whether we make it consciously or from long habit:  We put ourselves in the enemy's hand as a weapon, or we offer ourselves to God as weapons of righteousness.    


Paul also says in Romans 8 that the mind set on the flesh is death and the mind set on the Spirit is life.  Our salvation, our close relationship with God, glows brightly when our eyes are fixed on Him and on the things of the Holy Spirit.  It's that intimate walk with God that gives us an authentic blush of love.

The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God 
It's often pointed out that the Sword is our only offensive weapon, and this is basically true.  Jesus used the Word of God against Satan in the desert (Matthew 4).  We're told that the Word of God is applicable in any situation (II Timothy 3:16, 17), and we're promised that God's Word will not return to Him without having done what He sent it out  to do (Isaiah 55:11).  You've got to understand that God's Word isn't just something someone said ... It's what ?God ? said ... says to us today, as well as to millions of others throughout the ages.  God spoke all of creation into existence.  His Word is powerful.  


When you find yourself face-to-face with the enemy, your sword is your weapon of choice.  Remind the powers of darkness (and remind yourself!) of what God says.    


The two best ways to keep your sword sharp are these:  Read your Bible regularly, paying attention to what God's saying to you and applying it in your life.  Second, memorize it.  King David said, "I've hidden Your Word in my heart so that I might not sin against You."  (And remember that when we sin, we're volunteering ourselves as a weapon of evil.)  Knowing God's Word and knowing it in the context of His Whole Counsel (all the Bible, not  just your favorite passages) equips you to know what His will is so you can pray  effectively, discern evil from good (sometimes not so obvious), recognize things that He's  warned us about, encourage us in our trials ... and many other things.    


At the end of his description of the Armor of God, Paul talks about prayer.  There's a saying: "The Army of God marches forth primarily on its knees."  We often think that we're helpless and the "only" thing we can do is pray.  Let me reframe that for you:  Praying is one of the very most powerful things you can do!  It's not the last minute, hopeless toss at the field goal.  It's the primary underpinning for our armor.  Pray, pray, pray.      


There's a movement that started recently called ?Prayer Vs Pandemic. ? I love that!  You can absolutely pray by yourself, but Jesus talked about the power of prayer with others.  Seeing the maps on this website ?https://praytogether.relevantradio.com/? , seeing how  the number of people who have registered a commitment to pray compares with the  number of cases of coronavirus can encourage you, inspire you, and help to build your  faith.  I'd encourage you to make a commitment and sign up today.  


I'd like to point out one more way that we can fight the war in the Heavenlies.  It's with worship.  Worship is our greatest purpose in life.  The Bible is full of worship tools (150 Psalms!) as well as examples of God using worship alone to fight battles.  Martin Luther, the Great Reformer said, "The Devil flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God."  Music is also a balm for our worries.  It's very difficult to worry  and sing at the same time.  Music helps engage our senses to combine them with the spiritual force of God's Word.  

 I've put together a play list of songs I've found to be powerful in Warfare Worship:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XHX7Tp2wY0&list=PL-qJGkcLR7n5AlKUQ_CKyECmW mK5WVzPv    

I hope that these thoughts have inspired you and encouraged you to ask God how you should specifically use your armor in this crisis.  We each need to be engaged in this battle for souls and lives.

©2020 Alyce-Kay Ruckelshaus

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