To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.” Ephesians 6:21-22 NLT
Thank God for brothers and sisters in Christ. There are those, like Tychicus, who are faithful, dependable, and helpful. He is mentioned five times in the Bible, all in the New Testament (Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7-9; 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12). These people are the unsung heroes of the faith. I have known brothers and sisters in ministry who have been a great help and encouragement to me. Paul was most grateful for those who helped promote the gospel and who ministered to him as well. Who can you think of today that has been faithful, dependable, and helpful to the cause of Christ and also a blessing to you as well? Take a moment and thank God for them. Ask God to bless them today. You might want to give them a call, send them a text, go visit them, or something else. Don't wait. Do it today.
“And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.” Ephesians 6:19-20 NLT
Paul was sitting in prison as he writes these words. His incarceration was because of his faith in Jesus Christ. Even in the midst of circumstances such as that, he still remained focused on his God given calling. His call was to carry the "Good News" (gospel) to Jew and the Gentile (pagan) people. While under such harsh conditions Paul was more concerned about getting the Word to lost and dying humanity. His request wasn't for him to get out of prison but, rather, prayer that God would give Him opportunity to share Jesus Christ and His grace to the world. Paul was sold out to Christ. He wasn't a fair weather Christian that made the priority of his prayers to be his personal comfort and convenience. Today we have a tremendous amount of church going "Christians" that are more concerned about what God can do for them rather than what God can do through them. This should make us do an introspective analysis of our commitment to Christ. Are we just trying to get "fire insurance" from hell or are we genuinely in a loving, committed relationship with the Savior of the world. It isn't enough to be associated with Him. We must be transformed by His power and grace! When we are transformed by Him, we will be captured by the necessity to get this message to the world at all costs.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”1 Timothy 2:1-4 NLT
As followers of Christ we are called by God to pray for our leaders. Now that the election is behind us, let us resolve to lift up to God our elected officials. God is their commander-in-chief and they will answer to Him for their character and conduct. As believers, we must determine to fervently pray for God's mercy, protection, and wisdom to those who are our governing authorities. It behoves us, as Christ's representatives, to conduct ourselves in a manner that is civil and honorable.
“It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.”
1 Peter 2:15-17 NLT
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished."
Romans 13:1-2 NLT
The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.”
Romans 13:4-5 NLT
The scriptures are clear. Are we clear?
“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:13-18 NLT
The Holy Spirit gives Paul a revelation of the parallel between the Roman soldier's armor and the armor of the Saint. In God's army, we, too, must suit up for battle. There are six specific pieces of armor and one way to initiate the use of them.
1. Belt of truth. Truth is what holds it all up (see John 17:17 and John 8:32).
2. Shoes of peace. This is the only way to walk. (see Matthew 5:9).
3. Breastplate of righteousness (body armor) to protect the vital things. Righteous living protects the credibility of the principles of the faith. We cannot expect our faith to stand up in the battle if we aren't living what we profess (see I Peter 1:14-15).
4. Shield of faith. We must be willing to walk into the fierce battle knowing that our faith in God is what deflects the devils attacks (see Hebrews 11:1 and 6).
5. Helmet of salvation. Knowing Jesus as our Savior and Lord will set our minds in proper order and will protect us from the assault of the enemy upon our knowledge of Christ as our redeemer (see Romans 6:23; 10:8-10; Ephesians 2:8-10; Acts 4:12; John 14:6).
6. Sword of the Spirit. This is the Word of God. This is the only offensive part of the armor. It is through God's Holy Word that we defeat the devil. Even Jesus used the Word (He is the Word made flesh) to refute the devil on the mount of temptation (see Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13).
Hebrews 4:12 says: “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” NLT
7. Prayer. The one thing we must use as our call to arms is prayer. We must not walk into the battle without the clarion call of prayer. This is the only way we can enter into the fierceness of the battle with complete preparation. (see Luke 18:1 and I Thessalonians 5:17).
Let's run to the battle suited and ready in Jesus name!!!
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT
Standing strong in the Lord's power requires the proper attire. We must suit up in the appropriate uniform. We cannot simply walk out into the fierce chaos of the war unprotected and unprepared. Having on the right body armor is essential to successful defense, and offense, in this war that rages around us. There is a literal battle going on in the heavenly realm around us. This battle is being waged for the souls of men. Angels and demons are locked in battle over our lives. This war is for supremacy in the lives of men. May God open our eyes to the reality of this war. The spiritual realm is where we win or lose the war. We cannot fight the devil with swords and guns. We must fight him in the name and power of Jesus Christ. The devil doesn't even flinch at your name but absolutely shutters at the mention of Jesus name!!! The battle that Satan wages over your life is real. He wants your life and the life of your family. He doesn't care about you and he will not stop until you are destroyed. Jesus Himself said “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10 NLT
From the beginning, Satan has been after mankind. He wanted the domain that God had given us (see Genesis 1:26-28). When Adam and Eve sinned against God (Genesis 3:1-7) the domain was handed over to Satan. Ever since, we have experienced sickness, sorrow, and suffering. The only hope is through the power of Jesus Christ. He has defeated Satan and redeemed our God given inheritance. We were created to rule and reign. By accepting and knowing Jesus as Savior and Lord, we are restored to our original place of sonship. However, we aren't home yet. Until we arrive at our destination, Satan will do his level best to disrupt, distort, and destroy our efforts. Being strong in Jesus Christ is the only way to assure victory.
“We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT
Let us run to the battle unafraid and undeterred. The battle belongs to the Lord!! Victory awaits the child of God. “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:57 NLT
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”Philippians 4:13 NLT
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free. Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.” Ephesians 6:5-9 NLT
Paul was addressing the attitude and conduct of Christian slaves and Christian masters. Slavery was common in that time. Working hard for masters was an act of service to God Himself. Being a considerate master was also an act and attitude to God. We must remember the same. Ultimately, we are working for God. May He help us, today, to demonstrate His likeness in our attitude with our boss and in our work for them. In the same sense, the master (boss) should remember that they have to answer to God for the treatment of their subordinates. God is watching! In everything we do may we be conscientiously aware of that fact. I leave you with two scriptures:
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 NLT
““Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NLT
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 NLT
I want to speak to the fathers for a moment. You play such a critical role in the stability and civility of society. You are given, by God, the authority and responsibility to be the spiritual priest of your home. Let me be very straightforward: Just because you are a male and can contribute to the creation of a child inside the womb of a woman doesn't make you a father and a man. Back in the late 80's I heard a preacher named Perry Stone Jr. say: "Test tubes can make babies"!
Being a man and being a father requires you to know and love God through His Son Jesus Christ and live a life that reflects that. The ultimate manhood is when we are like Christ. Jesus was the epitome of manhood. God has given fathers the awesome privilege and responsibility to influence and guide the direction of the world through godly leadership. Let me be frank: being a sports star, driving the biggest and baddest truck, being a body building specimen, being macho, providing nice stuff, or simply making the money, doesn't cut it. Why do men think they have to curse like a sailor and drink like a fountain in order to fit in with "the guys"? You don't have to. Make the decision to follow Jesus and stay the course. Yes, work hard, provide for your family, and enjoy the benefits of that. However, don't forget to love the mother of your children by treating her like Jesus. Stay faithful and stand firm in the things of righteousness. Teach your children by your godly example as well as give them instruction from God's Word. Then, and only then, will you be able to experience the product of fatherhood the way God created it.
Let me touch on the mothers part of this. Dear ones, please give your best support to men who love God and are striving to lead godly lives as fathers. They need you and you need them. That's the way God intended it.
Lastly, I want to leave a verse of scripture for you to ponder today: “Help, O LORD, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth!”
Psalms 12:1 NLT
“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”” Ephesians 6:1-3 NLT
Obeying our parents is a command that goes all the way back to Exodus 20:12. There we find the fifth of the Ten Commandments. Learning to obey our parents pours over into being able to submit to authority in all other aspects of life. Most of those receiving this devotion are adults. Often we apply this command to children. Two things: 1. We are all children under God. 2. We all have parents no matter how old we get.
We must learn to apply this command even in the adult relationships we have with our parents. God is observing our care of, and for, our parents. Our parents are not perfect. They are humans just like us. We all have our failures. However, we must honor our parents as if we were honoring God. In essence, that is exactly what we are doing. Do you honor God by honoring your parents?
“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her”
Ephesians 5:21-25 NLT
Marriage is the foundational institution of humanity. We should never accept any other definition of marriage than what God created. God established this sacred institution as one man and one woman. He began the human race with this union in the beauty and splendor of the garden of Eden. His intent was to give mankind dominion over the earth and to populate it with other men and women (see Genesis 2:24-end of the chapter). Jesus did His first miracle at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee (see John 2:1-11). This was no sheer coincidence. This was divinely orchestrated. God was, once again, as he had in Genesis, blessing the sacred institution of Marriage as the highest priority. Marriage is the bedrock of society. The dismantlement of it has brought us utter sorrow. Adam and Eve, the first marriage, started the whole snowball effect with their decision to disobey God's Word in Genesis 3:1-7. Stop for a moment!! Consider how one bad decision by the first married couple caused so much sin, sickness, suffering, and sorrow.
It behoves us to take our responsibilities as husbands and wives with the utmost of seriousness. The blessing of our children, or the curse, lies within our understanding of marriage. Men, behave like Jesus to your wives. Love them and be sacrificial with them in your care of them. Women, submit to godly leadership and do everything you can to help your husbands honor Christ. Together, establish the future of your children and succeeding generations. Too many children are living in broken homes, often with no father. 24 million children live in America each day with no father in their homes. 40 percent of those haven't seen their father in the last 12 months. When are we going to stop the madness? Who will dare to stand up under the pressures of marriage and, by God's grace, break the yoke from off the necks of their children. Where are you men of God??
Rev. Curtis Norris