Resources to aid your Understanding
The storms began to hit hard at the end of my first year as a Christian They took me by surprise. After a delightful year of learning to know Jesus and discovering the marvelous resources of His Kingdom, I thought I had a handle on the Christian life. Ignorant of spiritual warfare, I didn't guard against the perversity of my flesh (the old human nature) nor against Satan.
Suddenly neither my outward circumstances nor my inner struggles fit my vision of the Christian life. Disappointment, failure, and loss happens to everyone, but in me they opened the door to doubts and despair.
The questions in my mind reflected the confusion in my heart: If Jesus is my Shepherd, why doesn't He take better care of me? If God is my sovereign King, where is His power to provide strength and peace? If He is my Father, why isn't He gentler with me?
Of course, the problem was me, not God. I just hadn't seen all that He offered me, nor had I applied all that He had shown me. My royal wardrobe hung unused in the closet.
I had pictured both a vertical love-relationship with my Lord (His hand and heart reaching down to me) and a horizontal friendship with Him (walking and working side by side). Both became real and precious to me, but I had missed the very best-the intimate union in which He and I become one.
Jesus gave an exciting description: "In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you" John 14:20). In other words,
Thus, whatever touches me must first pass through both the Father and the Son. Not only does Christ cover me with Himself, He and I become one. In His garments, I am not only protected, but am also united with Him.
Are you ready and willing to put on Jesus Christ?
I put on Christ my Lord, not by rote recitation of the parts of the armor, but by entering into a relationship with the living God. I secure my new set of clothes by a lifestyle of oneness and communion with Him. Both begin with a deep look at God.
As God reveals Himself to me in His Word made alive by His Spirit, I affirm all that He is to me. My sovereign, all-powerful King, who reigns over all (including the counterfeit powers of Satan), is not only the whole wardrobe, but He is also each individual part.
Having revealed Himself to me, God seeks a response. He longs to give me all that He is and has, but He can only fill and clothe me when I come to Him in trust, humility, and surrender. This attitude (so contrary to my human nature) comes readily when, by His Spirit, I "behold" Him (2 Corinthians 3:18).
When I see His greatness, I dare to trust Him, admit my need, and give myself to Him for the accomplishment of His purpose. Since words (thought, whispered, or spoken) confirm and strengthen the attitude of a yielded heart, I tell Him my response. For example, I might pray:
Precious King, I choose to trust You. Therefore, I give myself to You as a living sacrifice. Transform me into Your image by the complete renewal of my mind, so that nothing will hinder me from seeing Your glory and knowing Your will. Hide me in Yourself, my Lord. Thank You for making us one.
Next, I take each piece of His armor by faith, affirm its basic truth, and apply it to myself.
Thank You for Your truth. I will count on all the wonderful things You have shown and promised me.
Thank You for Your righteousness in me. You have made me holy, precious and beautiful in Your sight (Isaiah 43:1-4, 25; Ephesians 1:4, 2:1-10).
Thank You for the peace I have in and with You. Keep me still in Your presence as we work together this day. Let Your peace flow through me to others John 14:27, 16:33).
Thank You for the gift of faith. I will believe and proclaim Your sovereignty, wisdom, love, and triumph no matter what confronts me (Galatians 2:20).
Thank You for eternal salvation. I count on You to bring me safely and triumphantly through every challenge of this day. Keep my heart set on the encouraging hope of Your final salvation, which will bring me face-to-face with You, my King (Romans 5:8-10, 8:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:8-9; 1 John 3:3).
Thank You for Your Word. Show me which Scripture will bring triumph in my thoughts and emotions today (Ephesians 6:17).
As His protective presence becomes a growing conscious reality, only a few simple words may be needed:
Father, take me, I am Yours. Thy will be done. Keep me hidden in You. I love You, precious King. Thank you.
Assume that I have been coming to God each day with an attitude of trust and surrender. In fact, to "put on Jesus Christ" has become a daily habit. Even so, I find I am not immune to certain kinds of struggles. Why not?
I may not have really understood what God does and does not promise to do for me. If I presume that God's protection extends beyond His promise, I will become disappointed and frustrated. The truth is that His armor may or may not protect me against the storms of the world (Matthew 5:45). But it will always protect me against the assaults of Satan, whose arrows use the circumstances of the world to crush and destroy far more than could any storm.
In other words, God may not take me out of my circumstances, but He will bring victory in the midst of the trial. He will protect me against discouragement, despair, hopelessness, worthlessness-all the destructive emotions and thought patterns that rise up inside to disturb my peace, deny my resources in Christ, and quench my joy in Him.
Jesus asks me, "Will you go on with Me? Will you trust Me enough to remain hidden in Me? Will you continue to share My life?"
When He hides me in Himself, I become part of His life. I go where He goes. I share His heart, thoughts, concerns, and actions. Since Jesus has called me to oneness, I feel the winds that beat on Him. Together He and I face the storms and pressures of the world. Together we bear the stab of rejection. Together we share the pain of a friend and bring the comfort of truth.
If Jesus isolated me from all suffering, I could no longer be His friend and follower. He who is strong and I who am weak must walk together in His purpose. The very circumstances I would avoid, He now uses to make me a living, present-day proof of His triumph over the pressures of the world and the powers of Satan. Thus, the very storms that once brought devastation, now affirm the victory of the armor (I Peter 4:12-13).
"Love one another, even as I have loved you.... By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35). Jesus reminds those who wear His clothes and share His vision of the importance of love.
Why is this love so important? Because we need each other. I may be able to get dressed alone, but without the support of faithful friends, I may become weary and find it unbearably difficult to "stand firm" in all that He is. Though our primary relationship is with Him, God made us to fit into one another's lives, to watch out, care, and pray for each other with the same concern that we have for ourselves.
Remember Paul's plea, the completion of his teaching on the armor: "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me." (Ephesians 6:18-19)
When Satan directs doubt, discouragement, and fear at my weakest points, I need a friend who cares enough to prayerfully check my outfit to see that I am fully protected. When the missiles reach their mark and their venom distorts my perspective, I need a well-dressed friend who still sees clearly. Lifting each other up to God, we can stand together and demonstrate God's victory in every painful, confusing, and challenging situation.
By Berit Kjos
Books by Berit Kjos
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