This is a very difficult time for a lot of people. A time of year when memory seems to be amplified, when lost traditions are remembered, when loved ones are missed, when we're constantly reminded of what really matters in life and often feel like our own lives fall short.
I've written before about some of the difficulties my own family has had this year. But I know we're not the only ones. And I know many people with much worse problems. People who thought they had it all together are now loosing their homes to foreclosure. People are worried about our nation. They're worrying about health care and hand gun reform, and whether or not Obama deserves the Peace Prize. People are going through divorces at an alarming rate. People are dealing with sick loved ones, or the death of someone close. It's a terrible world. And if you look at the Bible it says things are only going to get worse before Christ's return.
When I was thinking about all of this today, I was struck suddenly by a verse. I could only remember that it had something to do with Principalities and Powers. That our battle is against the spiritual realm. A little google search later and I found it:
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Ephesians 6:12-13
We are in a huge spiritual battle. And Satan is having his hay day. And we need to be prepared. How do we do that? We put on our armor.
"Stand firm then,
with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with a breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to this,
take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
In order to have access to this powerful set of armor, it requires discipline and study. This is not the easiest thing to do, especially when you're already in the middle of a great battle, as many of us currently are. But it only takes a minute or two to open the Word, put your finger on a passage, and arm yourself. I know one lady who reads 3 chapters of the Bible a day, it usually takes her 5-10 minutes. And seriously, this is something I need to do! I'm preaching to myself as I write this!!!
And sorry to jump around, but here's my thought. It's almost Christmas. The holiday that is supposed to be about the birth of Jesus. And yet our society (and let's face it, the forces of evil) have twisted it into something it's not. Into a holiday about Santa and retail marketing, and stress. Let's not forget the stress. Because spending great deals of time thinking about what you should get for various family members can be stressful. Worrying about your credit card bill because you spent too much on gifts is stressful. And for many, thinking about what won't be under the tree for you children is... heartbreakingly stressful.
We've taken the gift of Christ, which was meant to SAVE us, and turned it into a total fiasco. Just try to tell me Satan didn't have something to do with that!
Yes folks, we are fighting against the spiritual world here. And this time of year, the battle is ON! Big time! So we need to focus on our armor and prepare ourselves for attack, because by now it should be obvious that it's coming, if not already here.
But remember, there is light at the end of this tunnel. Jesus came to save the lost. He came for you, for me, for your neighbor, your uncle Frank, your cousin Shelly, your neighbor across the street, your co-worker who drives you nuts. He came for ALL of us!
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:13
But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. - Hebrews 3:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7