Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 Minutes)
Scripture Reading & Devotional:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
“Don’t quit.” “Keep fighting.” “Stay strong.” That’s the message we often hear during the difficult seasons in our lives. The problem with this advice is that it’s not always possible. Sometimes things get so hard and go on for so long that we simply don’t have any fight left in us. Sometimes the burdens of this life are just too heavy for us to carry on our own. Nevertheless, we find ourselves constantly facing the pressure to be strong and at least appear to hold everything together.
Paul no doubt experienced that same kind of pressure, but he refused to give in to it. Instead, Paul was open about his weaknesses. In one of his letters, he wrote, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.”–2 Corinthians 1:8
Paul knew what it felt like to be overwhelmed. He understood that the trials of this life were far greater than anything you or I could ever carry on our own. In the book of Ephesians, Paul emphasizes the reality that things are even worse than we could have ever imagined. He says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”–Ephesians 6:13
Abraham Kuyper once described this battle by saying: If once the curtain were pulled back, and the spiritual world behind it came to view, it would expose to our spiritual vision a struggle so intense, so convulsive, sweeping everything within its range, that the fiercest battle fought on earth would seem, by comparison, a mere game. Not here, but up there–that is where the real conflict is engaged. Our earthly struggle drones in its backlash.1
You and I are fools to think that we can hold it all together against the cosmic powers that rule over this present world. Even the strongest of us are no match for our enemy. So what are we supposed to do when faced with an enemy that is far stronger than we are?
Fortunately, we are not the first to find ourselves in this position. In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat finds himself facing an enemy that is far stronger than he is. I want you to watch what he does as he goes out to fight a battle that he knows he could never win on his own. In verse 12, he prays, “O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
What Jehoshaphat did thousands of years ago is what Paul is calling you and me to do today when he says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil”–Ephesians 6:10-11. Paul is calling us to recognize our powerlessness and look to the one who is able to raise the dead (2 Corinthians 1:9). He is calling us to lay aside our flimsy man-made defenses and put on the armor that God alone is able to provide.
There is only one person who has stood against all the schemes of the devil, only one person who single-handedly disarmed all of the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame (Colossians 2:15). His name is Jesus, and it is in the strength of his might that Paul is calling us to fight our battles. It is the armor that he bought with his precious blood that Paul is calling us to put on.
So you can stop pretending that you are stronger than you really are. You don’t have to keep trying to look like you have it all together. You don’t have to wrestle your own demons alone anymore. Let the Lord be your strength and your shield (Psalm 28:7). Let him be your stronghold and refuge in the day of trouble (Jeremiah 16:19). In Christ, we can know for certain that our God is for us; so who can be against us? If you will only trust him you will find that we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:31, 37). “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”–Ephesians 6:10-11
Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)
- Have you ever felt like you didn’t have the strength to keep everything together anymore? How did you respond?
- Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-10. Have you ever despaired of your own strength and chosen to rely on God instead? What happened?
- In the Gospel, where do we see God’s strength demonstrated? In the Gospel, where do we see that God is for us? What would it look like for you to stop trying to fight your battles in your own strength and instead “be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might”?
Prayer: Conclude with Silence (5 Minutes)
The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.