Alert and Armor-clad

soldiers on guard duty

Several years ago, Geraldo reported how armored four-legged critters from Texas were roaming the streets of Washington D.C.

If you saw them, you weren’t hallucinating—and Geraldo wasn’t sensationalizing. Not at all. You really saw a wandering “army” of armor-clad armadillos.

Sometime ago, biologists started tracking the armadillos marching through Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and beyond. Believe it or not, these nomadic critters are traveling northeast toward the Atlantic Coast.

So, if you’re in that neck of the woods, stay alert and watch out for invading armadillos!

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we’re commanded to stay alert and stand firm—just like soldiers on guard duty, standing watch at their posts.

The Scriptures communicate the orders of our Commander-in-Chief to his followers: Stay alert. Stand firm. Stand your ground.

The apostle Paul exhorts us to stand strong in Christ, recognize our position and identity in him and wear God’s armor. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10-11).

When we put on God’s armor, we’re putting on Christ (Romans 13:14). Paul also declares, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). When we rely on Christ’s strength and strap on God’s armor, we’re equipped to defeat the adversary.

The first three pieces of armor are riveted to our position in Christ.

The “belt of truth” is God’s Word, the source of all truth. We stand firm in the truth by squaring things with the Word. The “breastplate of righteousness” is our justified position in Christ. We’re declared righteous in Christ; but it’s his righteousness—not ours. The “shoes of peace” picture the peace of Christ that must umpire our hearts in Christ if we’re going to live victoriously in him (Ephesians 6:14-15).

The final three pieces of armor are riveted to our victory in Christ.

The “shield of faith” is what we believe about God and his Word. It equips us to deflect the enemy’s assaults, as we trust and declare it. The “helmet of salvation” guarantees our eternal victory, even when the enemy disrupts our daily victory. The “sword of the Spirit” is God’s Word, our sure defense—and when we declare it, the enemy hears and runs (Ephesians 6:16-17).

So—as soldiers in God’s army, let’s suit up, stay alert and stand firm in Christ!

Sovereign Over All

Lincoln Memorial

I remember seeing the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. for the first time.

I stood there, as a 12-year-old boy—awestruck by a bigger-than-life president chiseled in white stone, sitting on a huge chair.  Totally mesmerized by the immensity of what I saw, I gazed at that famous monument and wondered what I’d do if President Lincoln suddenly stood up!

Every President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces.  But God is the sovereign Ruler over all.  He’s all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere present at once.

Only Almighty God is exalted over all things—and sovereign at all times.

He’s never surprised, never overwhelmed and never caught off guard.  Nobody can sneak up behind him.  Nobody can remove him from his throne.  Nobody can stop him from accomplishing his plans.

King David declared, “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalm 33:11).  Because God is eternal—without beginning and without end—his plans and purposes are also eternal.  They’re anchored forever to him.

God is bigger than time and space.  He travels beyond the galaxies, and yet he’s never late.  He’s always punctual.  Right on time.  He’s always on schedule.  Down to the second.  He’s unfolding and accomplishing his sovereign will, which is “good, pleasing, and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

God is skillfully working his eternal plans—even when it doesn’t look or feel like it to us.

Long ago, Joseph’s jealous brothers plotted how to kill him.  Long story cut short, they threw him into an empty pit and left him there to die.  Later on, they sold him to a band of ruffians who took him to Egypt and sold him as a slave.

Today, we know God is the One who lifted Joseph out of that dusty pit and moved him into Potiphar’s house—and later freed him from a forgotten prison and escorted him into Pharaoh’s palace.  We know God coordinated it.  Deliberately—and purposefully.

But at the time—only God knew the real reason why those terrible things happened.

With exact precision, God positioned young Joseph so he could later rescue and feed Egypt and the surrounding nations during seven years of awful famine.  With perfect timing, God revealed his plans and purposes for Joseph.

The Bible says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Not some things.  All things.

That truth is so mind-boggling and yet so reassuring.  God is accomplishing his eternal plans and purposes through us.  That’s why we can trust God’s perspective—and yield to his plans!

Bungling Brothers

covert crossing bridge

Two disreputable brothers—Benjamin and Alexander Jones—concocted a grandiose plan as small-time thieves to steal some big-time loot.

They used blowtorches to dismantle Covert’s Crossing Bridge in western Pennsylvania. Before they took it apart, the bridge measured 50 feet long and 20 feet wide. After they dismantled it, they tried to sell 15.5 tons of scrap metal for more than $5,000 to some unsuspecting buyers.

Neighbors scratched their heads in disbelief. They were flabbergasted at how the brothers apparently thought they could get away with demolishing a bridge and selling its scrap parts.

The bridge demolition and heist backfired on the foolish men when they were spotted by an alert bystander and arrested by the local police. They were caught red-handed, trying to sell pieces of the missing bridge.

At times, we’re a lot like the two bungling brothers. We think, act and speak foolishly.

But the Bible exposes a different folly. Unlike the wise man, a fool is an unrighteous rebel who opposes and rejects God. He connives and enjoys evil schemes. He ponders and does what’s evil.

Fools arrogantly deny God’s existence. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” … (Psalm 14:1). Instead of worshiping the only true and living God, he erects and exalts man-made gods.

Fools deliberately lie, hate and slander others. “He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18). Instead of telling the truth, he deceives and maligns others.

Fools unashamedly enjoy doing evil and living irresponsibly. “A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct” … “A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless” (Proverbs 10:23; 14:16). Instead of doing what’s right, he does what’s evil and wrong.

Fools recklessly maneuver through life. “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15). Instead of seeking wisdom and help from others, he stumbles and fumbles.

Fools wildly react without any restraint. “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Proverbs 29:11). Instead of demonstrating self-control, he explodes and hurts others.

I wonder if you’re thinking and living wisely—or foolishly.

Friend, let’s refuse to go down the roads that fools walk!