Football players wear helmets. Ice hockey players wear helmets. Baseball and softball players wear helmets when they bat. Jockeys wear helmets when they ride. Cyclists wear helmets when they race their mountain or road bikes. Those and other athletes put a premium on protecting their brains from injury.
And soldiers protect their heads as well. No surprise, then, that Paul included the “helmet of salvation” in his list of the Christian’s spiritual armor. Paul draws much of his armor imagery from Isaiah where God is pictured as wearing spiritual “armor” (Isaiah 59:17) as well as the coming Messiah (Isaiah 11:5). Why the helmet of salvation? In short, because of the emphasis in Scripture on the mind. We have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). We are to renew our mind (Romans 12:2). The main battleground of spiritual warfare is the mind, the thought life (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). If Satan can cause us to have thoughts of doubt concerning our salvation, the battle tilts in his favor. We protect our mind with God’s promises concerning salvation.
When you have doubts or insecurities, go to the Word! Renew your mind; protect your thought life. Meditate on what is true (Philippians 4:8).
Salvation is a helmet, not a nightcap! Vance Havner
The Armor of God: The Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17)
The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me.” Judges 7:2
In a 2017 World Cup qualifying match that pitted the US against Trinidad and Tobago, the Soca Warriors shocked the world when they beat the US men’s national team, a team ranked considerably higher. The upset eliminated the US team from the 2018 World Cup.
Trinidad and Tobago’s victory was so unexpected in part because the United States’ population and resources dwarfed those of the small Caribbean nation. But those seemingly insurmountable advantages weren’t enough to defeat the passionate Soca Warriors.
The story of Gideon and the Midianites features a similar upset, one between a small group of fighters and a large army. The Israelite army actually had more than thirty-thousand fighters, but the Lord whittled the army down to just three hundred warriors so the nation would learn that their success was dependent on God—not the size of their army, the amount of money in their treasury, or the skill of their leaders (Judges 7:1–8).
It can be tempting to put our trust and confidence in things we can see or measure, but that’s not the way of faith. Though it’s often difficult, when we’re willing to depend on God, to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10), we can go into situations with courage and confidence, even when we feel overwhelmed and unqualified. His presence and power can do amazing things in and through us.
Everyone faces challenges in life, whether financial, vocational, relational, physical, or spiritual. When trouble comes, as it inevitably will, we should waste no time in bringing it to God.
Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, faced an enormous challenge as three nations simultaneously threatened to attack. The king immediately sought the Lord’s help. Notice that the bulk of his prayer focused on God’s greatness—acknowledging His almighty power, authority over all nations, past acts of faithfulness on Israel’s behalf, and willingness to hear the prayers of His people when they cry out to Him.
These same truths should be the foundation of our prayers. He is still the sovereign, powerful God who has proven Himself faithful and promises to listen to our prayers. We should never underestimate the Lord’s interest in our affairs. He will help His children today, just as He helped Jehoshaphat.
It’s easy to think our problems are unimportant to God, but He doesn’t feel that way at all. Whatever concerns us concerns our Father. So when we, like Jehoshaphat, rely fully on the Lord, He will help us. And remember: No matter how great our challenges are, God is greater.
“I beseech you therefore…by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)
For those who would know God’s will for their lives, these verses provide the definitive answer. The key is sacrifice, not conformity. It is paradoxical, but wonderfully true, that real living is dying—dying to the world and living unto Christ! This great theme is emphasized repeatedly throughout the New Testament (Galatians 2:20, etc.).
Whether paradoxical or not, the principle of sacrificial living for Christ is eminently reasonable service! “Reasonable” is the Greek logikos, from which we derive our word “logical.” “Service” is the Greek latreian, referring to service as a priest. We have been made “an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). It is perfectly logical that we render such lifelong service to the great Friend who laid down His life for us in order to take away our sins and give us everlasting life with Him in the ages to come.
It is also logical that we should not conform our lives to the standards of this present evil world. Why should we imitate this world’s materialism or humanism, in dress or music or morals or anything else? We have far higher and more lasting standards, guided by the Word of God and by minds renewed in Christ.
Our minds once were “blinded” by “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), but now they can be guided by “the mind of the Lord” (Romans 11:34; 1 Corinthians 2:16). Here is the key to knowing that good and acceptable and perfect will of God! HMM
OFTEN we overlook the rich truths contained in those little incidents in the life of our Lord which take up little space and, therefore, receive too little attention. One such is found in the visit of His relatives (Matt. 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21).
The brothers of our Lord were puzzled by His ministry. John tells us that they did not believe in Him (7:5). And Mary, His mother, was far from that faultless character which she has been made out to be; our Lord made clear to her several times by gentle rebuke His greater loyalty to the Father (Luke 2:49; John 2:4). Now, while He was teaching the people, it appears that His mother and brethren made a rather unseasonable visit, perhaps to caution Him not to overtax Himself or maybe to warn Him not to bring down the wrath of the Pharisees. It is easy to see how well-meaning relatives could interfere with One who was pursuing a course so certain to bring trouble and so dangerously unusual.
Our Lord’s answer, like so many of His replies, was abrupt and seemingly severe, but it was meant to bring out a great truth in a way that would command attention and make the audience sit up and take notice. He asks, “Who is My mother? And who are My brethren?” Then He declares, as He points out His disciples, “Behold My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother and sister and mother.” He was declaring that His family was the spiritual fellowship of all who do the will of God. He was not ignoring or despising earthly relationships, which have their place and value; He was simply taking opportunity to illustrate the higher relationship of all who are children of God by faith in Himself.
This explains such sharp demands as that we must “hate” father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, and even our own lives, if we are to be His disciples (Luke 14:26). So much greater and higher is this heavenly relationship that our love for our relatives must be as hate compared with our love for Him. It also explains His terse refusal to let would-be disciples return home to bury their dead or bid their families goodbye (Luke 9:59-62). No ties of flesh and blood, no relationships of earth, are worthy to hinder our utter abandon to Him. We must ever beware of those, even of our families, who would tone us down or cramp our freedom with even the most well-meant advice if it runs counter to His will.
While, of course, this truth can be misapplied to the point of fanaticism, few today have reached its point. There must be loyalty to the highest that will brook no interference from even the closest hearts of earth. Many a man is hampered in his ministry today because of a divided affection. Unlike Jesus, he interrupts his work for the Father to confer with the relatives who wait.
“My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus.—John 18:36
The kingdom of God was the motif running through everything Jesus taught. However, I pick up many Christian books and magazines today and find that, with one or two exceptions, the kingdom of God is not mentioned. Yet Jesus made it the central note of His preaching and also His praying.
It is time now to ask ourselves: What exactly does Jesus mean when He uses the word “kingdom”? The word for kingdom (basileia in the Greek) means “rule” or “reign.” The kingdom of God, then, is the rule or reign of God, His sovereignty, for which we are to pray. Jesus spoke of the kingdom as being in the present as well as in the future. In Luke 17:21 He said, “The kingdom of God is among you.” Wherever there is a heart that is surrendered to the claims and demands of Jesus Christ, there the kingdom exists. But there is a day coming, says Jesus in Matthew 8:11, when both small and great will sit side by side in the kingdom and realize that in God’s order of things there are no favorites.
The Scripture tells us also that God has a kingdom that is established in the heavens (Heb 12:22-28), and the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer “Your kingdom come” is a petition for God to let that kingdom extend to every area of the universe where His rule is resisted. We are thus introduced to another great purpose of prayer—transporting to all parts of the universe, across the bridge of prayer, the power that overcomes all sin, all rebellion, and all evil.
Father, what can I say? When I see that You have given me the privilege of helping You usher in Your kingdom through prayer, my heart is overwhelmed. What confidence You place in Your redeemed children. May we be worthy of it. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The Christian Message has a wonderful appeal. It is not first a demand with which we must comply. Do this! Do that! It is not a series of divine don’ts. It’s God’s generous offer of love—forgiveness, family and the Father’s smile. He takes the initiative in seeking to embrace us in His love, beyond our deserving.
But surely there is more to the good news of the gospel than what it can give us. In the offer of the gospel lies a demand. “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” could be tough in His demands for loyalty, sacrifice and obedience.
Futurist Tom Sine says, “We have reduced Christianity to a crutch to help us through the minefield of the upwardly mobile life. Our books, broadcasts and sermons encourage us to understand what God can do for us—help us get ahead in our jobs, color us beautiful. Biblical Christianity does not mean living the American dream with a little Jesus overlay. The big issue to be faced here is who is ultimately in charge of my life.”
Most of us like a buyer’s market. We want to contract for services of the Almighty on our own terms, sort of shopping by cable TV. No obligation, with a good return policy. Maybe that’s why we like going to church on TV. All the people are squeaky clean and you can go out for coffee when they take the offering.
I read a remarkable testimony of a Salvationist in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Anna Maria was deep into spirit worship and witchcraft, communing with evil spirits, casting spells, and living between the cemetery and a spiritualist center. She came to The Salvation Army because she had seen a television program produced by the Army the year before. She heard the truth of the gospel. She found release from her bondage through the power of the risen Christ, and now she is living and working in one of our homes as a Salvationist in that country.
You may be enslaved and controlled by the powers of darkness and not even know it in our own current culture in this land. What was done in her life can be done in yours.