May 7, 2016
May 7, 2016
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5
Can we be angry with someone we love? Of course, but we cannot long remain in such a state. Either our love will gain the upper hand, or our anger will harden into bitterness.
We bump into warnings about bitterness throughout the New Testament. Stephen told the ruling counsel, “For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness” (Acts 8:23). Paul told us to get rid of all “bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking” (Ephesians 4:31). Colossians warns husbands against developing bitterness toward their wives (Colossians 3:19). And the book of Hebrews warns that when a root of bitterness springs up, it causes trouble and defiles many (Hebrews 12:15).
Agape love and sinful anger cannot long exist in the same heart, so we must put aside angry thoughts and display God’s love. This doesn’t come merely by playing music, reading books, or listening to motivational speakers. It’s true we need all the help we can get. But true agape love has only one source—it pours into our hearts from God by the Holy Spirit.
Then we can release that love and let it overflow to others!
The Bible teaches that if we seek revenge, we are violating the principles of God, but we are also setting ourselves up for Satan’s control of our life. David Jeremiah
Yesterday we saw that guilt can be false or legitimate. But in either case, its effect on us is the same.
Feeling ashamed can lead us to doubt God’s presence, provision, or promises. We might struggle to believe He loves us, and if the emotions are strong enough, we may even question our salvation. Guilt can cause us to forget we are free from condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and can make us fearful that God is judging us harshly.
Another response to self-reproach is to try and pay the Lord back for our real or imagined mistakes. To earn His approval, we get compulsively busy and stay that way. Then, there’s remorse over “shoulds,” “oughts,” and “musts”—guilt over unfinished tasks can rob us of pleasure in our relationships, as we question our use of time. Such self-condemnation can lead to discouragement and depression.
Because of guilt’s corrosive power, we need to take care of it quickly. When we have broken God’s commands, the solution is to repent and accept the Lord’s forgiveness. False guilt, on the other hand, is erased by embracing biblical truth:
I am special. God chose me and is transforming me into Christ’s image.
I am loved. God loves me unconditionally, unalterably, and continuously.
I am forgiven. Jesus paid the full price for my every sin. God has permanently forgiven me and adopted me into His family.
God has provided a way out from the burden of guilt you carry. Won’t you accept His offer?
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” (Romans 1:1)
Paul identified himself as a “servant [literally ‘bondslave’] of Jesus Christ” as he began several of his epistles; and it is significant that he began the epistle to the Romans in the same fashion. The parallel phrase “bondslave of the emperor” was commonly used in governmental and commercial circles of the day, and the readers in Rome would fully understand the meaning of the new term.
The emperor of Rome not only was to be obeyed as a human slave owner and king, he also was to be worshiped as a god. Paul boldly proclaimed himself to be the bondslave of a different slave owner, the subject of a different King, and the worshiper of a different God.
Paul knew and expected to convince his readers that this new doctrine he was preaching would quickly replace the imperialism of Rome, and he fully realized that this challenge would quickly be recognized and fought by Rome. Paul himself, not many years hence, would stand before the emperor Nero, not as an imperial bondslave, but a bondslave of the King of kings.
Long before Nero’s executioner freed Paul from the limitations of his physical body, Paul had been made a “freeman of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:22). The common title of the day “freedman of the emperor” designated a bondslave of the emperor who had been elevated by the emperor to a higher position.
Paul had been, and all believers have been, ransomed out of the slave market of sin by Christ’s blood and have been set free from the guilt, power, and penalty of that sin. Our willing response should be to permanently place ourselves into enslavement to our Redeemer, making us simultaneously both bondslaves and freedmen of the King. JDM
Those whom God sends are often slow to go, and yet men whom the Lord never sent push themselves into office eagerly.
Exodus 4:2, 3
This was a sign to him that though now a humble shepherd he would become so powerful as to terrify Pharaoh. The pastoral staff should be dreadful as a serpent.
Here he learned that the power with which he was endowed while it would be as a terrible serpent towards Egypt, would be for himself and for Israel a harmless shepherd’s crook. Both the signs would encourage Moses.
Exodus 4:7, 8
This he saw that the Lord can both wither and restore. All who work for the Lord should remember this.
By this reluctance Moses lost much honour, for Aaron became the high priest, and he obtained a helper who also proved to be a hindrance.
It is interesting to note that other eminent prophets besides Moses have shrunk at first from their commission. We will read how Jeremiah did so.
O Lord, grant that all thy ministers may have their mouths touched in the same manner.
Father of mercies, bow thine ear,
Attentive to our earnest prayer;
We plead for those who plead for thee,
Successful pleaders may they be!
Lord, how can sinful lips proclaim
The honours of so great a name!
O for thine altar’s glowing coal,
To touch their lips, and fire their soul.
Ephesians 6:14, 15
If you had seen the shoes of a Roman soldier, you’d have wanted to make sure you didn’t fall in front of him or get in his way where he might accidentally step on you. Those weren’t normal shoes—they were killer shoes!
Paul refers to these killer shoes in Ephesians 6:15 as he talks about the spiritual weapons God has given to the Church. Just as God has given each believer a sword (see February 22), He has also clothed every believer with the shoes of peace.
Now, I realize that these shoes may sound like a passive, peaceful part of our spiritual armor. However, these are actually killer shoes, such as those worn by a Roman soldier.
The shoes of a Roman soldier were vicious weapons. They began at the top of the legs near the knees and extended down to the feet. The portions that covered the knees to the feet were called the “greaves.” They were made of metal and were specially shaped to wrap around the calves of a soldier’s legs. The greaves were uncomfortable but essential for the safekeeping of a soldier’s legs.
The shoe itself was made of heavy pieces of leather or metal, tied together with leather straps that were intermingled with bits of metal. The bottoms were manufactured of heavy leather or pieces of metal. The bottom of the shoes were affixed with sharp, dangerous, protruding spikes. These spikes had several purposes, which we will get to in just a moment. In addition, two sharply pointed spikes extended beyond the front of each shoe.
Let me explain to you the reasons for all this gear on a soldier’s legs and feet. First, the greaves—the metal that covered the Roman soldier’s legs from his knees to the top of his feet—were designed to protect the soldier’s calves when he was required to march through rocky and thorny terrain. If he’d had no protection on his legs, he would have surely been gashed and cut by the environment.
Thus, the greaves gave the soldier protection so he could keep walking, regardless of the obstacles he encountered. The metal barriers also gave him defensive protection in those moments when an adversary kicked him in the shins, trying to break his legs. Because the soldier’s calves were covered with these greaves, his legs could not be broken and the enemy’s attacks were in vain.
Now let’s talk about the spikes on the bottom of the soldier’s shoes. These were intended to hold him “in place” when in battle. His opponent might try to push him around, but the spikes on the bottom of his shoes helped keep him in his place, making the soldier virtually immovable. Additionally, those spikes on the bottom and front of the shoes served as weapons of brutality and murder. One good kick with those shoes, and an enemy would be dead. Just a few seconds of stomping on a fallen adversary would have eradicated that foe forever!
When Paul writes about these shoes in Ephesians 6:15, he says, “… And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Notice that he connects peace with these killer weapons! In just a moment, you’ll understand why.
The word “shod” is derived from the word hupodeomai—a compound of the words hupo and deo. The word hupo means under, and deo means to bind. Taken together as one word, it conveys the idea of binding something very tightly on the bottom of one’s feet. Therefore, this is not the picture of a loosely fitting shoe but of a shoe that has been tied onto the bottom of the foot extremely tightly.
Just as the greaves of a Roman soldier protected him from the environment and from the blows of his enemy, the peace of God—when it is operating in your life—protects and defends you from the hassles and assaults of the devil. The enemy may try to disrupt you, distract you, and steal your attention by causing negative events to whirl all around you, but his attempts will fail because the peace of God, like a protective greave, stops you from being hurt and enables you to keep marching forward!
Just as those spikes held a Roman soldier securely in place when his enemy tried to push him around, the peace of God will hold you in place when the devil tries to push you around! And as the soldier used those spikes to kick and to kill his opponent, there is no need for you to ever stop moving ahead just because the devil tries to block your path. If he is foolish enough to try to get in front of you, just keep walking! Stomp all along the way! By the time you’re finished using your shoes of peace, you won’t have much of a devil problem to deal with anymore!
Paul uses this illustration to tell us that we must firmly tie God’s peace onto our lives (see January 1 to read more about the supernatural peace of God). If we only give peace a loosely fitting position in our lives, it won’t be long before the affairs of life knock our peace out of place. Hence, we must bind peace onto our minds and emotions in the same way Roman soldiers made sure to bind their shoes very tightly onto their feet.
But wait—there’s one more important point. Paul continued, “And your feet shod with the preparation….” The word “preparation” is the Greek word etoimasin, and it presents the idea of readiness or preparation. When used in connection with Roman soldiers, the word etoimasin portrayed men of war who had their shoes tied on very tightly to ensure a firm footing. Once they had the assurance that their shoes were going to stay in place, they were ready to march out onto the battlefield and confront the enemy.
When peace is in place in your life, it gives you the assurance you need to step out in faith and make the moves God is leading you to make. But before you take those steps, you need to be sure His peace is operating in your life. This mighty and powerful piece of your spiritual weaponry is essential because, without it, the devil can try to kick, punch, pull, and distract you. But with that conquering peace firmly tied to your mind and emotions, you will be empowered to keep marching ahead, impervious to the devil’s attempts to take you down!
Lord, I thank You for the peace You have placed in my life. This powerful spiritual weapon protects me from the assaults of life, enabling me to stand fixed, even in the face of the occasional storms that try to blow into my life, my family, my church, my friendships, and my business. How can I ever express how much I need this peace or how grateful I am to You for covering me with this protective shield that fortifies me and makes me strong? When adverse situations arise against me, help me remember to immediately release this divine force to safeguard my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that God’s peace rules my mind and emotions, protecting me from the ups and downs of life. When storms are trying to rage against me and situations are hostile toward me, God’s peace covers and safeguards me from all harm. Because divine peace is operating in me, I am not easily moved, quickly shaken, or terrified by any events that occur around about me. This mighty and powerful piece of spiritual weaponry is mine to use day and night. Therefore, although the devil may try to kick, punch, pull, and distract me, that conquering peace empowers me to keep marching ahead, oblivious to the devil’s attempts to take me down!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision; and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way.” (Oswald Chambers)
God is allowing the testing… the battering, to mold our character into His:
“Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.
“Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
“But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 – Amplified)
Observe the birthing of a calf, or the metamorphose of a moth into a butterfly. Painful. “Battering.”
The temptation is to intervene and stop the uneasy proceeding. But we need to understand God’s battering “process” and allow it to go on to completion.
Beauty and maturity often emerge from pain:
“Let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work. So that you may be people perfectly and fully developed with no defects, lacking in nothing.”
This is God’s school in preparing you, the visionary to carry out the vision. In God’s school there are no shortcuts. The process produces the product.
So, fellow pilgrim, in your valley, don’t faint and give way until He completes His task in you.