Don’t forget to put your armor on

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Samurai were scary people. Many of the popular movies about them have been toned down to make them sympathetic characters, but in reality, they were a brutal, unyielding segment of a society. They had no pity and no mercy, and while I’m sure they had some concept of love, it wasn’t the same as a Westerner like an American would comprehend.

That being said, the samurai fascinate me. They always have. Japanese culture in general is one of my favorite topics, but samurai in particular captivated my interest from the time I was a child. And if you want a really interesting read, there’s a book called Code of the Samurai, which is actually a fast, in-depth read about samurai culture (for any of you culture nerds out there).

A samurai was always ready for battle, always ready to take up arms against an enemy. They were ever-vigilant. And they were obsessed with honor and respect. And nothing is more samurai than the samurai armor, but how long did it take to actually get into one of those rigs? Hours probably. But would a samurai go into battle without his armor? Very unlikely. A samurai’s armor was the symbol of his family, his heritage, his honor, and, honestly, it was just common sense. Who goes into battle without armor?

Unfortunately, I do it every day, and I’m not supposed to.

If you’re a Christ-follower, you have access to armor. And not just any armor—God’s armor. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:12-13, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

There’s a war raging around us every minute of every day, and we can’t see any of it with our eyes. It’s a struggle for our attention, our faith, our belief. Demons and angels. God and Satan. Granted, God already dealt Satan a fatal blow when Jesus saved us on the cross, but Satan hasn’t backed down yet. He still thinks he can win, so he’s throwing everything he has at us.

So God has given us everything we need to fight back. We just have to choose to accept it.

Truth. God’s righteousness. Peace. Faith. Salvation. The Word. God has given these things to us to fight against what Satan throws at us. If we use them, nothing can hurt us. So why don’t we use them?

Honestly? I forget I have it. I get into the groove of living and think that I’m on my own. I think I have to do it all myself, and that’s a lie.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]We are fighting the remnants of a war that God has already won for us.[/su_pullquote]

Christians, remember that every day is a battle, and we’re not fighting against what we can see. We don’t fight against our coworkers (no matter if they annoy us) or our family (even if they frustrate us) or our government (even though The Man is getting a little big for his britches). We are fighting the remnants of a war that God has already won for us.

Don’t forget to put your armor on. Cling to truth. Hold tight to what God says is right. Seek peace and faith. Trust God’s salvation and His Word. And don’t listen to what the devil whispers in your ears. The devil has already lost this war, and when we draw on the power of God’s armor, we’ll win the battle too.

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Something to look forward to

Have you ever noticed that Christians talk a lot about hell but we don’t talk much about heaven? There’s this prevailing idea in American culture that heaven is a place full of clouds where angels float around plucking harps all day. That concept of heaven isn’t supported anywhere in scripture. Honestly, I’m not even sure where the idea of angels playing harps came from. I know angels are musical but first and foremost they are messengers. And angels aren’t going to be the focus of heaven. Heaven is all about one person: Jesus. And if I know Him as well as I think I do, sitting around listening to harps all day would bore Him out of His skull.

The verse for today is Revelation 21:2-4 and it’s a popular one that floats around the church. At NewSpring you’ll especially hear it during Judgement House.

2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

 3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.[a] 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Forgive me a Judgement House Tour Guide moment . . . . “We don’t know all the glories of heaven, but we do know that Jesus will be there ready to welcome us home.”

Heaven is a wonderful place. And maybe that’s why we don’t think about it. Maybe we don’t talk about it because it’s going to be so incredible that we are afraid to imagine it. In any case, I think we need to spend more time contemplating what heaven will be like. After all, it’s going to be our home for eternity. Shouldn’t we want to know everything we can about it?

Like here. If you know you’re moving, do you just pick up all your belongings and move to a new city without learning something about the city? Maybe some people do. But it’s a good idea to learn about the schools. To learn about which neighborhoods and areas of town are best avoided at night time. To figure out where the closest Wal-mart is. To make sure there’s a library close by.

Granted, we don’t have a lot to work with as far as knowing what heaven is like. From the Revelation we know that it’s beautiful and extravagent. I find it ironic that gold costs so much down here and in heaven they use it to pave the streets. That tells you how much gold is worth in heaven. But I am less concerned with what heaven will look like than I am in what life will be like there.

It’s a given that heaven will be beautiful. Earth is beautiful. The mountains. The oceans. The plains. Canyons. Trees. Clouds. Flowers. Earth is a wonder and it’s broken. Earth is incredible and God made it in six days. Imagine what He has done with 10,000 years! Imagine what He has made without us crazy human types up there to screw it up! The scenery of heaven isn’t going to be clouds and blue sky. It will be like Earth. Just better. Flawless. Unbroken. Whole.

But life in heaven? No. We’re not going to sit around playing harps all day. Well. Let me take that back. If you love to play the harp, you’ll be able to do that.

I really believe that whatever gift God has given you is what you will do when we get to heaven. There’s this concept that all we’ll do is sing hymns and play music. Maybe. If those are your gifts, that’s great! But the real point is that in heaven we will spend all day, every day worshipping God. And the very simple truth is that worship isn’t just singing. Worship isn’t just playing music. Worship is living life for God. Making every moment of your life about Him. Intentionally living every moment of every day for Him, doing what He asks, listening when He speaks, going where He tells you to go, and staying when He tells you to stay.

You can worship God when you drive a car. You can worship God when you mow your grass. You can worship God when you drink a cup of coffee (right, Colonel?). Worship is a lifestyle. And when we get to heaven, worshiping God with every breath will no longer be a challenge. Pride won’t get in the way anymore. And that’s what I look forward to most. Being able to use the gifts God has given me without the fear of me taking over, without the danger of pride having a part in my actions.

I don’t think God would have created a world of people with vastly different personalities and talents and gifts only to snatch them all up in the end, stuff them in angel robes, thrust a harp in their hands and expect them to float around plucking strings all day for eternity. That’s not God’s style. If He’s given you a gift, He expects you to use it, both here and in the life to come.

So it might be a good idea to figure out what your gift is. =)

I know for me, I can’t wait to get to heaven. I’ll be able to tell stories all day long. And then fearing dangling participles is no longer a concern. =)