Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Warfare and Armor of a Christian by James Mattila
(In light of the theme of the youth rally which was held over the weekend in our congregation, this article could be of interest to us. It is written by a man from the west coast with whom we are in fellowship)

Ephesians 6:10-18

Paul says our battle is not against flesh and blood
(humans), but against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of
this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places (Satan and his host of demons). Often our arguments, struggles and hard feelings are against other humans, but according to Paul we are wrestling against the wrong foe.
With this exhortation in mind, let’s take a look at our adversary and the armor God has prepared for us to defeat our foe.

Satan’s Goals

Satan desires to blind sinners and to beguile, hurt and discourage Christians. He will do anything to disturb the mind, deceive the heart and defeat life. He is as active today as he has always been. As Christians, we are fighting a spiritual war in a foreign land. The devil has three primary targets: first, he attacks every individual Christian to
destroy his or her life; second, he attacks every Christian home to destroy its unity, purity and oneness; third, he attacks every Christian church to erode its ministry, discredit its leaders, and destroy its presence in the world of darkness. When he can sow discord in our families, cause our homes to be torn apart, or cause dissension in the church, he will succeed in his goals.

Satan’s Personality

Satan is the most bitter enemy of God and His people. He is the second most powerful being in the universe, subject only to the triune God. The Scriptures describe Satan’s personality: “the deceiver” and “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:9-10), “a murderer” and “a liar” (John 8:44), “the tempter” (Matthew 4:3), “the destroyer” (Revelation 9:11), “the wicked one” (I John 5:18), “an angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:14), and “a roaring lion” (I Peter 5:8). Satan beguiles, seduces, opposes, resists, deceives, hinders, buffets, tempts and persecutes the believer. The only power we have against Satan is the power we have in Jesus Christ; thank God that He has given us armor for our defense.


The Armor of God

The Word of God tells us that we must prepare for this warfare. We can walk into a hostile environment and not be defeated. Our Leader and Commander, Jesus Christ, has already won the war,
and He wants us to live in the power of His victory, but we can not win
unless we are armed. That is why Paul told the Ephesians, “Take up the whole armor of God.” Paul did not say that God would bestow this armor on us; it is our responsibility to put on and use the armor of God to protect ourselves against the wiles of Satan. We put on the armor of God daily through prayer. Always put it on in your morning prayer to our Heavenly Father. It is awesome to live in His protection, covered by His grace and His armor.

The Girdle of Truth

Each piece of armor deals with a specific target of Satan’s strategy. The girdle of truth is the knowledge, acceptance and use of the truth—the great truth of God and His relationship to us through Jesus Christ. It includes faith in what God has said in His Word about Himself, His Son, mankind and history. (A simple definition of faith: God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.) To put on the girdle of truth we must know God’s Word. One of Satan’s ploys is to have false teachers lead ignorant Christian churches astray. Christians who do not know biblical truth are unprotected against the seduction of strange, false teachings. We should take advantage
of every opportunity to learn more of God and His Word so we can be armed against Satan who is out to destroy us.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

A breastplate is worn on the chest; it is to protect the heart from the darts of Satan. Our heart represents our emotions and feelings. If we do not live righteously by the power of Christ, we will become an easy target for Satan. If we harbor sin in our lives, we cannot have a proper relationship with God, we cannot witness effectively
because our lives do not match our words, and we cannot be victorious over temptation because Satan will accuse us. When Jesus died on the cross two wonderful things happened. First, He took our sins upon Himself; the Bible says He became sin for us. Second, when He rose from the dead He imparted His righteousness to us. When we put on the breastplate of
righteousness, it symbolizes that we are protected by the righteousness of Christ. When the old accuser goes before the Lord and points out all our faults and sins, God tells him, “I do not see that person as you do. I look through my Son and see a righteous person.” This is our armor: when we know we are right, we are brave and strong; when we know we are not right,
we are cowardly. Where is your heart today? Too many Christians
are more concerned with the pleasures and treasures of this world than with God. But by setting our hearts on God, and living in His righteousness, we become powerful and protected in the spiritual warfare.

The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

This is about witnessing to advance the cause of Christ (Isaiah 52:7). Did you know that our desire and willingness to witness is part of our protection against the enemy? We never walk so close to the Lord as when we trust Him to give us courage to witness to those around us. The Scriptures tell us that the shoes we wear are the gospel of peace. Our foundation in the spiritual battle is the settled peace within us. Satan is the destroyer of peace; his purpose is to bring division between men and separation from God. Remember that we are not in a battle against people; we are in a battle against Satan, so it is important that we are equipped with inner peace from God. Much of the spiritual
battle deals with our outlook on life. It is not the specific situation that is critical, but how we look on that situation through the power of Christ. Remember that in Jesus Christ we have peace. As we apply that truth to our lives, we can go out into battle and be victorious. We can go into this world proclaiming the gospel message with the assurance that Jesus Christ is at home in our hearts, which brings peace to our souls.

The Shield of Faith

A shield protects from the direct assault of the enemy. Our faith, our confidence in God’s promises, becomes our shield in the spiritual battle. Satan’s first work is to create doubt. The Bible says to withstand this attack
by taking up the shield of faith; we are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ as our defense. Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Even our faith is a gift from God. True faith is a settled
belief in God’s promises; to receive it we must know God’s Word of truth which conquers Satan’s doubt and deceit. There are two things to keep in mind about the shield of faith. First, the object of our faith is Jesus Christ. Our faith is not in a pastor, teacher or parent, but in the One about whom
they teach. As we get to know Christ, we will begin to feel more secure, and our faith will grow. Second, we need to be serious about strengthening our faith. We develop physical strength by exercise; we develop spiritual strength by exercising our faith. If we do not exercise our faith by applying truth to our lives, we will not grow. Find something God has been leading you to do, and do it. As we allow God to lead us more and more, we will
find that we will start winning more and more of the battles.

The Helmet of Salvation

In battle, our helmet protectsus from suffering a blow to our heads and becoming dazed. It is our salvation relationship with Christ that protects our mindsfrom Satan’s evil influences. Through Christ we can have victory in the area of the mind, for He is the author and the finisher of our faith. He is the helmet of salvation, for we are told in the Bible that we have the mind of Christ. How can we get the helmet of salvation? We have to ask God for it. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” The helmet of salvation, which is the protection of the wisdom of God, is available to every believer. We cannot set the Bible on our nightstand, look at it affectionately before we go to bed and give it a pat when we rise in the morning, and expect it to change our lives. If His Word is going to change us,
if His thoughts are going to be our thoughts, then we have to study His Word, and commit it to our minds and hearts.

The Sword of the Spirit

Scripture tells us to take in our hand an offensive weapon: the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. It is useful for discerning truth, and it is the most dreaded weapon we can use against our enemy. A metal sword gets dull as we use it, but the sword of the Spirit is sharpened with use. It is so important for us to discipline ourselves to read the Bible so we can have and use the sword of the Spirit. There are good “swords” found everywhere in the Bible, but if we do not read them we will not know them; we should also memorize key passages of Scripture. Try to imagine when Jesus was
tempted by Satan. What if, when Satan had told Jesus to commit some act, Jesus had replied, “Wait while I look this up in my concordance?” Most temptations come when there is no Bible around, so if we have the Word in our hearts we will be ready. That is what Paul meant when he said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Colossians 3:16) David also writes, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11) We need to be filled with God’s truth so when temptation comes we are prepared to defeat it.

The Weapon of Prayer

What radios are to soldiers, prayer is to a Christian. All of the fighting we do against our threefold enemy should be done in an atmosphere of prayer.
That way we are in constant contact with the Lord, our Commander. We should not be put our confidence in the flesh, but as James 4:7 promises, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” And the best news of all is that we are guaranteed to win this war, because on the cross Christ already defeated the enemy. We cannot fight the spiritual battle in our own power; we will be defeated no matter
how talented we are. We simply must be in contact with the One who gives strength to His soldiers. Satan will use every device to keep us from praying. He will cause fatigue, doubt, discouragement and depression to overwhelm us and keep us from the true source of power. That is why we need to pray regularly, not just when we feel like it. Satan wants to keep us
out of contact with God and occupied with other matters. Another way to look at prayer is simple communication. How would we who are parents feel if our children seldom spoke to us? We are God’s children, and I feel confident in saying that our Lord enjoys it when we talk to Him on a regular
basis. May God richly bless you in the study of His Word.

God’s peace to all,

James Mattila
Battle Ground, Washington
Posted on 28 Sep 2010 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Come unto Me and Rest

Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

In the pressures and stresses of life, what sweeter words could we hear than "take a break?" Let us consider the gracious words of Jesus by which he invites us all to come unto Him for rest, we who are at times weary and heavy laden. We all get weighed down with the struggles and the challenges of life, which may press us down so much that it seems like there is no end to the tunnel we are in.

We notice that before Jesus issued the call to come unto Him, He spoke of the unique relationship between He and his Father and of how no one can know the Father unless, He the Son, reveals Him. After He invites us to come to Him for relief, He invites us to be yoked (united, connected) to Him, calling upon us to learn from Him, who is meek and lowly of heart, saying that in this connection we shall find rest to our souls. There is a lot to think about concerning this, (rest to our souls). We know that there are two different types of rest, the first one being that we rest in order to be refreshed and strengthened. The other is that we stop working. God rested on the seventh day and rested from His work, not because He was tired, but that He was finished creating the world. Jesus rested on the cross when He said, "It is finished," revealing that all that was needed for sinners to be redeemed was now done. When we remain united (yoked) with Jesus, we are kept in a place of quietness and rest, for we do not have to think that somehow or someway we have to keep "doing something" to remain in good standing with God. Trusting in His work for us in Jesus is what keeps us in a close and eternal relationship with God. There is no work that He requires from us, but to believe upon that which He did for us. That is the gospel of Jesus. This is the rest that we are invited to abide in continually.

So in the big picture, we receive the work that God has done for us as a gift of His grace; and consequently, out of appreciation for the gift of faith we have received, fruit flows out of our lives. This seems to be what Jesus is talking about here, in that He is revealing the heart of God toward us by His example and His life. He calls upon us to rest in Him and simply allow His grace to be embedded so deeply and thoroughly in our hearts and lives that we no longer feel the pressure to perform for Him. It is as Apostle Paul wrote:

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

When we continue to trust in Him, we are then prepared for all things that may come upon us in our life. John Ruotsala preached a sermon on Sunday and he used this illustration to highlight what I just said. "There was a man who was hired by a farmer to be his right hand man. He would take care of all the outside things, such as feed the livestock, protect them from storms, protect their feed and so on. A big storm came one night, the farmer was worried about his farm, got up to check and noticed that the hired hand, instead of being out taking care of things, was sleeping in his bed. The farmer woke the hired hand up, demanding from him an answer as to why he was not out taking care of his farm. The hired hand said, "I knew that a storm was coming, so I put the livestock in the barn last night, I covered up all the hay with tarps, made sure that the animals had plenty of feed and so forth. Since everything was all taken care of, there was nothing for me to worry about when the storm came. I had prepared for the storm. " Did the hired hand understand what it meant to rest in Jesus?

Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
The Hebrew writer gives us some commentary on what Jesus was talking about when he wrote the verses which are above, for we are reminded of the High Priest who continually intercedes on our behalf, also invites us to boldly come to the throne of grace with our prayers, with our weaknesses, our doubts, so that we could obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need, so that we may with joy continue toward the city whose builder and maker is God!!

ESV Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we1 have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith1 into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

May we keep our eyes fixed upon Him today and always!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 16 Sep 2010 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Warfare and Armor of a Christian by James Mattila
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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