Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Control Freak Part 4: Armor Up!

This really gets me pumped up! Nothing says control more than preparing for war. Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us explicit details on how to be ready for combat. Don't kid yourself - there IS a war that happens on a daily basis and every believer in Christ needs to be not only aware of it, but ready to fight against it.

I'm only going to discuss verses 10-11 for right now because these verses are packed!

Ephesians 6:10-11
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. (NIV)

1. "be strong" (or "be empowered" in KJV) Greek - endunamoo' means I fill with power, strengthen, make strong; enable, increase in (to empower). I really like the English word-for-word translation of this, which is, "Henceforth, be empowered in [the] Lord, and in the strength of the might of him."

2. "put on" Greek - enduo means I put on, clothe, array. It is from en and duno (in the sense of sinking into a garment); to invest with clothing (literally or figuratively).

I visualize here "sinking into a garment" so that it feels so naturally fitted that it becomes a part of me.

3. "full armor" (or "complete armor" in KJV) Greek - panoplia means complete armor, panoply - properly means a complete set of defensive and offensive armor (weapons), i.e. everything needed to wage successful warfare; (figuratively) the full resources the Lord gives to the believer so they can successfully wage spiritual warfare. In this way they do not fight for victory - but from His victory!

Now that is so exciting to me! God does not leave me defenseless. He IS my defense!

(chasing a rabbit here. We have a annually an art festival called Panoply of the Arts. I find that title even more strange now that I know panoply means armor). Anyway... on to the rest...

4a. "so that" the English word-for-word translation is "for, *to be able (see below)". The Greek word for "for" is pros. I almost didn't even look at this word because it is a preposition and I honestly didn't think it would have much of a definition. Boy, was I wrong! Pros means to, towards, with - properly a motion towards, to "interface with" (literally moving toward a goal or destination). It indicates "extension toward a goal, with implied interaction or reciprocity, with "presumed contact and reaction", naturally suggests the cycle of initiation and response.

While reading that definition I could not help but picture a battle. I could hear the clanging of swords and feel the air being cut with the swinging of blades. I pictured myself moving forward, making headway with the power of God enabling me to press on! WHEW! It's tiring, yet exhilarating!

4b. "so that", "to be able" (I'm breaking this up into two parts because it is how I understand it) The Greek for this part is dunamai. It means, I am powerful, am able, have (the) power; I am able, I can, to show ability; able (enabled by God), empowered.

5. "take your stand" Greek - histe'mi I cause to stand, I make to stand, place, set up, establish, appoint.

6. "schemes" (or "wiles" in KJV) Greek - methodeia (from where we get our English word "method"). The definition is simply scheming, craftiness, deceit, trickery (also means lie in wait).

Satan is waging war against the saints of God, there is no doubt about it. And even though we are often referred to as sheep, we are by no means helpless. That is, as long as we put on our full armor and take our stand!! The battle we are in is not a typical battle. This battle is for our mind. Satan schemes to deceive us into choosing our own way instead of God's way. He is out to have us question the sincerity of God, put doubts in our minds and sway us to disbelief.

I will later discuss verses 12-18, which describe our armor piece by piece. I urge you to read and study this passage thoroughly for yourself, even if you have done so before. It might be time for you to read it over again. Put a new shine on your armor! We want it to reflect the light so much so that our enemy is blinded even before he gets near enough to take a swing!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Control Freak Part 3: See to it

This morning I was reading in Hebrews chapter 12, and verses 25-29 really stood out to me:

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
The words "see to it" (or "take heed" in the KJV) mean I look, see, perceive, discern; to see, be observant (watchful). It suggests "to see something physical with spiritual results (perception)." That is, it carries what is seen into the non-physical (immaterial) realm so a person can take the needed action (respond, beware, be alert).
The word "refuse" means, I make excuse, refuse, reject, I beg off, deprecate, decline, shun, avoid, have nothing to do with.
The words "turn away" mean I turn away, pervert, remove; i.e. depart (separate) from the previous point; incites rebellion
The writer of Hebrews is making it painfully clear that those who are children of God are to make certain (see to it) that we obey Him when He speaks to us! Again, let me remind you that this is something we choose to do or not. God is not going to force us to obey. He will discipline us, as any loving father would do (read Hebrews 12:6-8), but ultimately our decisions are ours. We will always, without fail, live with the consequences of our decisions, however. So it is extremely important to obey God's voice if we want to live a life of peace (inner peace) and rest (spiritual rest). I differentiate peace as "inner peace" and rest as "spiritual rest" because we are not promised life here on earth to be easy breezy.

While reading these verses, I was reminded of times in my past when I refused to listen to God, making excuse after excuse. Those were without fail the times when I struggled the most. I wish I could say that I quickly learned my lesson, but that wasn't the case. I still wrestle with doing things my way. Although, I do think that I'm much closer to "getting it" than I have ever been. The only way I will truly and fully understand what pleases God, is to be in the Word on a consistent basis, and to be in prayer continually. Prayer is probably THE biggest thing that God is teaching me right now. I will try to talk more about it in the future.
I also want to point out how we are to "worship God with reverence and fear". This is something else that God is helping me to better understand. I used to think that worship was merely singing songs about God to God. That is simply too simple! My LIFE is to be a life of worship. In other words, everything I say and do should be perceived by God as a deliberate act of worship of Him (see Romans 12). You know, I think this subject deserves a post of it's own!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Control Freak Part 2: Letting Go

For a control freak like myself, the thought of letting go of anything is a bit unnerving. However, God has instructed His children to do just that. In Psalm 46:10a it says, "Be still and know that I am God". Or, as the New American Standard Bible puts it, "Cease, and know that I am God".

The Hebrew word for cease is raphah. It means sink, relax. The Hebrew word for know is yada, which means acknowledge, acquainted with, advise, answer, appoint, assuredly, be aware (bold mine).

After reading a few commentaries on this passage, I decided that there was no way I could better explain it, so here is what the Barnes' Notes on the Bible has to say (again I will bold the words that stand out to me, which is pretty much the entire commentary):

Be still - The word used here - from רפה râphâh - means properly to cast down; to let fall; to let hang down; then, to be relaxed, slackened, especially the hands: It is also employed in the sense of not making an effort; not putting forth exertion; and then would express the idea of leaving matters with God, or of being without anxiety about the issue. Compare Exodus 14:13, "Stand still, and see the salvation of God." In this place the word seems to be used as meaning that there was to be no anxiety; that there was to be a calm, confiding, trustful state of mind in view of the displays of the divine presence and power. The mind was to be calm, in view of the fact that God had interposed, and had shown that he was able to defend his people when surrounded by dangers. If this the divine interposition when Jerusalem was threatened by the armies of the Assyrians under Sennacherib, the force and beauty of the expression will be most clearly seen.

And know that I am God - See, in what I have done, the evidence that I am God. See a work accomplished which none "but" God could effect. Compare Isaiah 37:36.

Now, I do not speak for all control freaks (I don't think they would appreciate that anyway), but personally I do occasionally appreciate it when someone else wants to take over and handle things. It is typically after I have tried everything I know to do and am failing miserably, so this verse is especially applicable to me. Although, I am learning to cease on a more consistent basis and let God be in control in the first place. There's the thing - I let God be in control. You see, He is not going to force me to do anything. Even though He knows that HE KNOWS better and can work things out for me far above what I ever imagined, He is not going to force His will on me, or anyone, for that matter. The God of the universe wants me to WANT HIM, and He, being the eternal God that He is, waits patiently for me to figure that out.

Here is Psalm 46 in its entirety (click on the link and listen):


God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.